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MUSED Literary Magazine.

Living with a Vata

Ron Jensen, posthumously by Diane Malk

Today I learned that Iīm classified as being Kapha. This came as a surprise to me. My wife who recently acquired an interest in Ayurvedic philosophy informed me of this. Iīd like a second opinion.

Let me explain a little to the uninitiated. Ayurveda is an ancient health care tradition which originated in India. Practitioners believe each of us falls into one of three body types termed Doshas -- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

My wifeīs constitution is Vata. These people have a lighter, slimmer build. She weighs about 100 pounds. This is the body type super models strive for and as a result get eating disorders. Roughly translated, Vata means "refugee from Bangladesh".

On the other hand, the qualities of Kapha are described with terms like heavy, slow, steady and solid. Due to my quest for spiritual enlightenment, I have slowly been transforming my body into a likeness of Buddha. Kapha, loosely interpreted, signifies "Path to Type 2 Diabetes".

Obviously, when it comes to food and eating we have slightly different approaches. From a Kapha point of view, a Hershey bar was meant to be eaten in a single serving. Read the label: One serving. I mean Iīm only following instructions. But, from a Vata perspective, a one and a half ounce chocolate bar is a lifetime supply. Day after day, month after month, it sits there on the refrigerator shelf barely dwindling down as microscopic mouse bites make an imperceptible dent. Itīs not eaten, itīs eroded. Note to the people at Hershey: There is a market for individually wrapped chocolate chips.

At any given time you may discover many remarkable Vata artifacts stowed away in the recesses of our refrigerator. Even fruit comes packaged too large. Itīs not unusual to find half a banana or half a plum waiting to be consumed in small increments. Of course, these items are all shrouded in plastic. Wrapped more carefully than King Tut. No matter how much plastic wrap, no matter how carefully wrapped, nothing can protect half a banana from the ravages of time. At that point, it gets relegated to the freezer where it is supposedly destined to be the key ingredient of a banana bread loaf at some future date. Fat chance. We now have forty pounds of frozen half bananas. There should be a law -- once a piece of produce is started it must devoured completely. Who canīt finish a whole banana?

Shopping together for food is always a fascinating experience. All items must be purchased in the smallest possible quantities. I didnīt even realize milk could be procured in the same size containers they used fifty years ago at my elementary school cafeteria. The "bulk" food section in the grocery store is a misnomer. In reality itīs the only place in town where you can buy a teaspoon of rice.

To a Vata, nothing is held in more esteem than salad. Salad is the holiest of foods. It doesnīt even have to be consumed. Being in close proximity to one is enough. Storing the ingredients for a salad in the refrigerator crisper is enough to absorb the life giving aura emitted by its ingredients. Crisper is another misnomer; nothing in the history of the world ever stayed crisp by being stored there.

Frequently when leaving the grocery store Iīll see a nice large trash can adjacent to the door and ask my wife, "Wouldnīt it be more practical to just throw half these groceries away right now instead of taking them home, waiting for them to over ripen, and then using up space in our own trash receptacle?" Sheīll respond by shooting me a scathing glare.

Of course, in Ayurvedic philosophy a certain amount of spirituality is involved. Some foods are spiritual by their nature -- quinoa is an example, tofu another, and donīt forget jicama. (A prerequisite for spirituality in food is that it not be spelled the way itīs pronounced.) Just eating these things elevates you to a higher plane, at least in the eyes of your friends. Nobody actually eats this stuff unless someone else is watching.

Really, the ability to tie your own shoes without having to unzip your pants, is a highly overrated skill. Okay, Iīll admit my wife could be on the right track. She is convinced and my doctor seems to agree, that I may have to change my dysfunctional ways.

Welcome to the world of Vata. "Honey, next time youīre at the grocery store would you pick me up a grape?"