In David C.M.Carter’s book Breakthrough there’s a chapter called Know Yourself. In it he talks about End Values and Means Values. A Means value is something like money and an End value is something like security. The money is a means to the End value of security. He says that sometimes people end up chasing Means values without knowing what the End Value is. And you know you’re doing this when you find yourself asking “is this it?” when you get your Means value.
I read this book a long time ago and I loved it. Over the weekend I picked it up and opened it randomly to this chapter. Straight away it struck me that for a while there I was chasing Means values without thinking about my End Values. I love the idea and theories of Primal living. I love Mark Sisson’s site and loads of other sites linked to primal and paleo living. But it’s not the sourcing of coconut butter and macadamia nuts that makes me love it. Far from it! It’s the simplicity of it. However, as has been said many times about this lifestyle – it’s simple but it’s not easy. I hear your bark big dog! I yearn for contentment and balance in my life. It’s my End Value. Just simply contentment and balance. And eating in a primal way in the past has given me this. But somewhere along the way, in the past year or two even, I have forgotten my End Value and started chasing my Means value. Trying to eat perfectly paleo and failing drastically and getting into a cycle of trying, failing, disappointment, trying again etc…For a while there I became the perfect example of letting perfect be the enemy of good. Staring at cookery books wondering where I’d manage to get coconut aminos even though I don’t know what they are, getting completely overwhelmed and instead eating the most primal/paleo unfriendly meal you can imagine just because I couldn’t make the perfect paleo meal.
It probably has to do with the fact that I had two children, one very quickly after the other, and I live in a different country to my family so I didn’t really have a support network. It was easy when it was just me and I had a full-time job and all spare time could be dedicated to doing things like sourcing coconut aminos. Because it was like my hobby. It was fun. But then the bambinos came along and literally took over my body and my life. It’s funny how when you’ve been woken every 2 hours for 72 hours in a row and have breastfed 8 times in 6 hours how you suddenly don’t really care much about coconut aminos…! My daughter is such a light sleeper that there are bomb disposal experts who do their job with less delicacy and breath holding than I do to get her into her cot after I FINALLY manage to get her to sleep. I can tell you, once she’s in that cot, I simply have no mental energy left to be making perfect paleo/primal meals.
But there’s a balance. And I had lost the balance and in doing so lost sight of my End Value. I have it back now and I know that ultimately what I want is balance and contentment. And I know that primal living is a Means that allows me to find that End Value and to wallow happily in it like a hippo in a mud pond. But on my journey there I will need to cut corners from time to time….because if I don’t cut those corners I risk going completely off the path. And when I talk about cutting corners I’m not talking about eating 150gr of pasta every day because I’m too tired to roast some vegetables. I’m talking about skipping a planned workout, or bulking out some primal leftovers with peas and white potatoes because I have nothing else and I don’t have time to make a new meal from scratch, or not feeling bad for eating a small slice of pizza at a 4 yr olds birthday party because I didn’t bring my own primal food (because no, just no..) and I live in Italy so of course there is pizza at a party….(because this is what happens if I do make myself feel bad – I decide if I can’t do it perfectly then why bother, I may as well eat ALL the pizza…AND the birthday cake…and anything else I stumble upon).
So there are currently no coconut aminos in this house and I doubt there will be for a while. On the up side I did stumble across coconut butter! And more importantly, my daughter has just been napping for 1.5 hour! Hurrah!