We claim that we’ve changed, that we’ve grown.
We claim to have learned from the mistakes of the past, to be better people than once we were, stronger people, people more willing to step up on our own behalf and do what’s right, rather than what’s easy.
And yet, time and time again, we find ourselves repeating the same self-destructive patterns that have so many times brought us low, reliving the same roles we’d struggled so mightily to escape, burning ourselves upon the same pyres, each time screaming: “This time will be different!”
I, for example, ate at Subway the other day.
I swore I never would, swore I knew better, but I hadn’t eaten in nearly thirty-six hours and it was the only place nearby with a vegetarian option so, seeing no choice other than going hungry, I went inside.
They have avocado, now, which makes things taste like avocado, I figured this might make for some improvement.
And it did, my sandwich did taste like avocado.
Avocado, and regret.
Regret, as each bite turned to ash in my mouth, that I could so easily forget those promises I’d made to myself after the last time I’d choked back a Subway sandwich, regret at the choices both made and unmade that had led me to that moment, regret at having gone thirty-six hours unfed that I might stoop so low, regret at not going thirty-six more if need be to avoid such wretched sustenance.
Yes, I was consumed with regret.
And so was my sandwich.
And, as I finished and walked out of Subway, feeling used and ashamed, I promised anew that, this time, I would learn from history so as not to repeat it, that I would know better for next time, would make better choices, would avoid such a pitiful excuse for a meal.
But in my heart I know I won’t.
Because I’m no better at self-care than ever I was and, some day, perhaps not soon but some day, in a moment of weakness, against my better judgment, I’ll find myself in a Subway sandwich restaurant anew, replaying the same stories that have, over the years, come back to torment me time and again.
And so will you.
We all will.
It’s inevitable, because in our hearts we are weak, we are foolish, we value convenience above all else, and thus we find ourselves time and again eating Subway in spite of the fact that other food exists…
Because this weakness is fundamental to us, it is at the very center of the human experience, and none who live can escape it.
Still, others have it worse than I, I suppose.
After all, SOMEBODY is keeping Arby’s in business…