Chef James Media Fast: The Rebel Rears its Head

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I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: Work hard, play hard. Extreme begets extreme. For some, this is a badge of honor. Six months into my self-imposed media fast, I’ve come to realize that with extreme choices come extreme reactions.

Choosing to go media free for a year is extreme. At times, it also feels pointless and unnecessary. I’ve had my slips here and there, but for the most part many positive life realizations. Recently, something shifted in me that scared me and may have taught me my biggest lesson to date.

A beast deep within me surfaced. This beast I call The Rebel.

The surest way to encourage rebellion is to set rules. Rules for how we eat, how we act, what we do, how we do it. Maybe it’s human nature or maybe it’s just a product of living in a civilized society, but we live in a world built on rules. The ones that concern me are those set around things we enjoy.

Ultimately I believe that we are on this earth to connect with ourselves, each other and the world around us. Yet, there’s a step that precedes that connection: choice. We make choices every day that determine our reaction in the next moment. My big “aha” moment is around extreme choices, particularly those involving rule setting.

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Rules take us out of being in the moment. Rules put conditions on things we find pleasure in, thus setting us up for failure and worst, rebellion. Now don’t assume that rebels yell as Billy Idol sang about in the 80s. The Rebel can be ninja-like, secretive and destructive. Yet, The Rebel would not be needed had the rule not been extreme in the first place. What’s there to rebel against when you have unconditional love for yourself?

Maybe you’re worried that if you gave yourself permission to enjoy everything and anything when you want, then gluttony and chaos would rule. If I watch all the movies and TV I want, I’ll isolate myself from society, fail on my responsibilities, become penniless, homeless, and destitute. These fears dictate many of my decisions. If I want too much, then I am too much. With fear comes judgment; with judgment comes the desire to control; with the desire to control comes rules. And with rules, come The Rebel.

It goes something like this:

If I eat too much, I’ll be fat. If I’m fat, then I judge that I’m lazy. To make sure I’m not lazy or fat, I need to control my behavior. So…I’ll make a rule restricting my food intake. And then The Rebel awakens
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Extreme rules create the “What about me?” syndrome, the part of the ego that fuels The Rebel. I deserve this bowl of ice-cream, glass of wine, or [___fill in the blank with your preferred indulgence___] for the day I’ve had.

I’ve now been media fasting for six months, who cares if I listen to a movie without watching it? (Yep, that’s one of the ways I’ve slipped up on this media fast.) The Rebel says, “I deserve a reward for ALL I’ve done.” Then, we cave. We give ourselves that treat to make everything all better. Had the rule not been there in the first place, The Rebel would have no fuel, no fire, and no reason for being.

Most of the time I’m not an extreme person, and I believe at heart the majority of us aren’t. But we live in an extreme world, and extreme conditions create extreme people. Desires ebb and flow naturally and when met with consciousness and love, they usually dissipate quickly or are enjoyed wholeheartedly with a smile. Slap a rule or condition on that want and it sticks around longer, festering, growing in size. Make those rules extreme and the beast becomes gargantuan, overwhelming with desire to the point of binging. No extremities, no welcome mat for The Rebel.

So who are we without extreme rules? I’ve committed to a year long media fast and will stay the course. But since you’re available,

I put forth this challenge to you:

For one weekend let go of any self-imposed extreme rules and conditions. Allow yourself to embrace, love and enjoy every decision you make, unconditionally. All I ask is that you do so consciously. I realize this challenge is very open-ended and could be interpreted extremely. 😉 Stay accountable for your choices and keep your eyes open to the moment. I believe, like me, you won’t be too much. That everything you are is perfectly enough.



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3 Comments

  1. Katherine Nyborg

    August 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Challenge accepted!

  2. Isabella

    August 2, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I completely understand your take on The Rebel and how we all experience varying degrees about its presence in our lives. I want to commend you for staynig the course the full year. I suspect there are more golden nuggets awaiting you along this Rebellious path. Thanks for sharing your half-way findings. This is valuable insight indeed.

  3. abey

    August 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Wow. That’s a powerful post and very meaningful to me right now. Last week I decided I was going to stop putting all these eating restrictions on myself about how much I should eat and it’s been really interesting to see my desires changing with the realization that I can do whatever I want. It’s cool. Thanks for the post.

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