There is a train down the Hudson River to Grand Central Terminal. It is a beautiful ride from Irvington where I live. It’s packed with commuters every morning and we yawn holding coffee and newspapers, rolling past the tug boats and the Palisade cliffs.
A thin bridge arches high above the confluence of the Harlem Canal where the Columbia University rowing crew sweep hard against the current in side by side training. We rattle past the other commuters, who back up on the freeway in their cars, passed the graffited littered walls, onto the elevated tracks of Harlem, then down under Park Avenue. We disembark into the human river of Grand Central Terminal, it’s impossible not to touch as each person makes their own way to their final desitnation. I finally emerge into the glass canyon, the fresh air, and the excitement of a New York City day.
In this video, Jack scores three goals in one game against a presumably good team. Jack loves his soccer and he’s pretty good at it because he practices all the time.
He loves it so much that he wears soccer jerseys everywhere. He even wants to wear the entire kit to school, socks, shorts jersey. He wears them every day. We wonder if it’s bad for him, his entire identity tied up in soccer. He says stuff like “when I’m a famous soccer player I’ll have three houses.”
We want him to do well in school…I know it’s only a remote possibility that he doesn’t end up on FC Barcelona or FC Bayern…if that occurs, then we want him to have something to fall back on. On the one hand, my brother says “let him self actualize” and buy him all the cleats he wants, even if he has four pairs already that he’ll out grow in two months.
My colleague Ross suggests that I implement the “normal shirt for one day” rule, where we enforce the rule that he wears a normal shirt for just one day a week. Is that too much to ask? Can Jack self-actualize and still wear a normal shirt for one day? I think so.
In any case, I’m way too involved and shouldn’t care as much as I do. I can’t drink coffee before his match and it effects me when they lose or if he doesn’t play well. It depresses me. Deep inside I know that the most important thing is that he have fun. Nothing else matters.
At 8:35pm on August 8th, 2013, I suddenly stopped eating meat. Prior to that moment, meatless meals were absolutely unappealing. I loved meat. And I didn’t really didn’t enjoy vegetables. As near as I can tell, everything changed in a moment when I read:
“Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable”
–― Gary L. Francione
Within an hour of reading that, I went to the Burrito box on 9th Avenue between 57th and 58th and ordered a vegan chilly burrito for dinner. I had no intention of giving up eating animal flesh, but the delicious burrito was smothered in the new flavor of knowing that not a single animal was harmed. It was subtile yet pervasive. The food was free of misery.
Looking back, the change occurred when I realized the positive, the peace, the moral comfort that I could have simply by eating a yummy burrito. The next morning I didn’t eat meat again, and I didn’t eat meat again for lunch. I thought the urge might go away, so I didn’t even tell anybody. The change happened so suddenly that it scared me. I really didn’t know what was happening. I thought I might have had a stroke.
It continued for a few days and I didn’t tell my wife. I was afraid of how she would react. She didn’t marry this vegan guy. And change is scary. What else would I change? After about 4 days I finally confessed. She was surprisingly supportive and understanding.
When I tell other people, even when I give emphasis that I changed for moral reasons, they often don’t hear what I’m saying and assume that I’ve changed for health reasons or to lose weight. Those are secondary benefits apparently (the verdict is still out). The reason I’m not eating animal or animal products is that I suddenly became acutely conscious that it’s immoral to treat animals the way we do and I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.
But I am a rookie. Especially in those first few days. I really didn’t know what to eat. And I was hungry. I didn’t know where to turn. I ate nuts and bread, carrots and salads, hummus and tomatoes. But my repertory is growing. The food I’ve eaten in the past few month has been some of the most delicious of life.
I didn’t miss meat at all — not one bit. I walk by the Hala carts frying chicken and lamb, those carts of my former sustenance, and it doesn’t seem like food to me anymore.