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I can see the world through the bottom of a shot glass. I can be the world if I close my eyes. And if I hold a seashell to my ears, I can hear the ocean's roar. The more I destroy myself, the closer I am to my essence. The sun is my only talisman. I have a story to tell and I finally know how to tell it.

Legend has it that Buddha died from eating tainted pork. That's not why I was a vegetarian.

Buddha: How many times do you think about death?
Monk 1: I think about death every day.
Buddha: Too little. How about you?
Monk 2: I think about death with every bite of food.
Buddha: Not enough. And you?
Monk 3: I think about death with every breath in and every breath out.
Buddha: Perfect.

That's why I was vegetarian. As a thinking being, I felt that it was my responsibility to not cause undue suffering to other conscious entities. The thought of cows and chickens penned up in small cages littered with feces and atrophied brains sickened me. To think that we would support behavior that inhumane for the meager joy of biting into a hamburger or a chicken nugget. It was almost to much too handle. The truth it speaks about the human condition frighten me. (Man, do I sound like a little whiny bitch.)

I didn't eat meat for a year. I gave up other luxuries, too. Like, instead of driving, I rode my bike 16 miles to school and another 16 miles back. If it was 100 degrees out as I biked, I smiled. If it rained, I still smiled. Sometimes, if I got stuck at a red light, I would hold out my middle finger and flick off all the cars. It's funny how angry a finger can make people. But that was before my incident at the supermarket. I'll remember that day forever as my awakening.

It happened as I grabbed something I didn't need. That's when it became apparent to me that my whole way of life, and the American Dream as we know it, is propped up by the oppression of others. We needed third world countries, sweatshops, pollution, a large military, death, soulless minimum wage drones, the propagation of American values, pollution, and endless streams of tears if we were going to keep $3 boxes of cereal on our kitchen tables and new cars in our garage. By shopping at the supermarket, I endorsed our way of life. By voting and paying taxes, I endorsed our government. It was that simple. I was a culprit.

So, I wouldn't eat meat, but I would support the suppression of other people. That's when I decided that I was a sick joke. Why worry about animals when this is how I treat how I treat my own species and my own planet?

I realized that all of the time I had spent preaching to people had been wasted. Who was I to preach? I was nothing idiot. How could I expect change when I hadn't really changed? I still desired, yet I was telling other people not to. I became a vegetarian because I desired to be moral, not because I no longer desired meat. Did I really care about others? Asceticism doesn't lead to enlightenment. Enlightenment leads to asceticism.

We are humans and our strengths and weaknesses are genetically coded in us. I accept that now. No talking or petty actions (like being a vegetarian) can change that. People will march forward as they always marched before. It's the only way they know how. It's the only way they can. We take our privileges for granted and we only recognize them as privileges after we lose them.

As long as I chase my desires, I'll be trapped in the endless cycle of suffering we call life. It's encoded in me. And yes, I said "suffering." Every birth promises a death. Remember that. Repeat this as mantra until it sinks in: "My pleasure exists as an escape from pain."

There is only one way to escape: I have to die as a person to escape. And I have to die not physically, but mentally and spiritually, which is infinitely harder. I would have to reject desire, the greatest temptress of them all. Until I can make that commitment, being a vegetarian is meaningless. It would be like locking a door without closing it. By desiring, I stay attached to the physical world, and the physical world never changes. There, suffering never ceases.

I'm not even sure what any of this means yet, but I swear it's all true. I knew it was true when I ate a mushroom and Swiss burger at McDonald's. That's when I knew that I would choose desire. Now that I accept that I desire and that I am deeply flawed, my life is much happier. No longer am I tormented by unreasonable expectations. Happy Happy Joy Joy.

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