"Uh-Oh" were the first words I uttered today. It was my commentary after reading the numbers on the scale. "Time to start another serious diet" I contemplated. This lament is not new. It seems most of my life has been a series of starting a new diet just as the old one ended!
My first battle began at age 11. My mother had taken me to a clothing store for a suit. The salesman ( once known as a Habidasher), measured my waist, my inseam, my shoulders, and then slipped the tape measure around my chest. He gently placed his hand on my shoulder, smiled cordially at my my mom and said " you have a fine young growing boy here, we shall need to look in the "Husky" section. "What's a Husky? I innocently asked. my mother quipped, "it means you are growing the wrong way! Instead of growing taller you are growing sideways!". I glanced over to her, she had this look, like I had double crossed her. I felt awful. I never liked that look. It was a guilty verdict that diminished my feeling of self-esteem.
In those days there wasn't any no Jenny Craig, NutriSystem or Weight Watcher Programs. There were no Lean Cuisines, Healthy Choice Meals and the word "Low fat" was not a concept on packaging labels. There wasn't Diet Coke!
The following week I found myself in the backseat of the car being driven to a clinic to be consulted with a "dietitian". Learning experiences...I was always open to what they had to offer.
We arrived at the assigned room. The dietitian sat at her desk and took down all types of information about me. She began explaining about calories, food choices and the importance of keeping a diary of what I ate. She handed me pages of the food groups that I could pick from and a suggested menu for the next seven days. "Next week, you'll come back, report to the room marked on the paper and we will monitor your progress". My world was slightly inconvienced, but anything not have my mother give me that double crossed looked again!
The next week we arrived at the room. I opened the door to find a room filled with people sitting in chairs. The dietitian was sitting at a desk in front of the room, next to her, an assistant. "Sign your name on the sheet, have a seat and wait till I call your name" she commanded with a voice of authority. I signed my name at the bottom of a long list and then took a seat with my parents in the back.
The silence was broken by the loud announcement of a name by the assistant. I observed a person get up from their chair, walk to the front of the room , stepped on a Drs. scale."One Hundred and Sevnty Four pounds, You lost two pounds" came the unpleasantly loud voice of the assistant. My heart jumped, "oh my, how embarrassing!" I began to sweat as my pulse heightened. I carefully paid attention as each name was called, trying to imagine how I was going to summon enough courage to do this. The assisant called out "PEARL KING"...I turned to my mom, her name was Pearl, not a common name, I chuckled and she smiled at me, "not me" she said. Two rows ahead of us, the chairs squealed as they were slid across the floor. A woman slowly rose. I could not believe my eyes...she had the biggest backside I had ever seen! She had a large dress on, there was no telling where her tush began or ended. As she approached the scale I began to immediately feel sorry for what she was about to experince. She stepped on the scale, the assistant quickly slid the weights to the end of the beam, making a loud "clack" sound as they hit the end. The assisant took a quick look and loudly announced "NO WEIGHT FOR PEARL KING". Pearl stepped off the scale and sat down next to the dietitian and handed over her diary. Confused I asked my Mom for an explanation. "The scale doesn't go high enough" my mom explained. "Without a weight, how does she know if she is gaining or losing ?" I asked. "She won't know, and she will have to try till her weight comes down to the where the scale measures it". this transcended my abilty to comprehend, imagine walking around and not knowing what you weigh! How awful!
The weeks passed, and I made progress. Each subsequent week I returned with more self confidence and a better understanding of what I could and should not eat. But, poor Pearl King, each week was the same "NO WEIGHT", despite the fact that it appeared she was making some progress.
By the third month I had made enough progress where my Mother said, "I think this will be your last weigh in, I can take over from here". So on that last trip to the clinic, we waited for my nameto be called. "PEARL KING" the assistant called out. Pearl walked up the scale and the assistant once again slammed the weights to the very end, gave a quick glance, then...paused, jiggled the weights, stared and then said aloud " TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY EIGHT POUNDS.....WE HAVE A WEIGHT FOR PEARL KING". My mom and I let out a small "yeah". I was so happy for Pearl, she finally knew her weight! I think I was more relieved about her, than my own progress!
On the ride home my mother told me how proud she was of me, how good I looked and that I needed to continue with my efforts. I could only think of how happy I was for Pearl King.
.....................Now, many many years later, I understand why. We are all here in this world for a limited time. The years go streaming by and it seems like we are just "passing through". We can step on a scale and see what we weigh "physically", but there is no scale that weighs our "usefullness, and fullfillment". That measurement has us all guessing ! Not having such a scale has us pause and ask, "am I doing what I was supposed to do? is the the way I was supposed to spend my life here?"
One can say, that an act of kindness, a blessing rendered onto another is like consuming spiritual calories.If that is the case, then I pray that when our time comes, we all will tip the scales!
The "other" diet begins tomorrow!