Sometimes I start thinking about something so long that I come to a conclusion I wish I had never reached in the first place. At that point I wish I had never started down the road of thinking about said subject, because once I've reached a solid conclusion about something, I can't pretend I never reached it. Even I have more integrity than that.
Example of the day: I love Diet Coke. Oh how I love Diet Coke. I come from a long line of alcoholics, and I am proud to say I am not one, nor was I ever. With my limited understand of my personality, I know that were I not a practicing member of the Mormon Church, I would be a straight-up raging lush of an alcoholic. It's all there. I'm Irish-Catholic by blood. I come from a long line of heavy drinkers. I have an obsessive, routine-driven personality. I'm also a poet. All the makings of a classic dipsomaniac.
So the good news is, I don't drink alcohol. The bad news is, the role that alcohol would play in my life if I weren't so straight-laced and puritan is played by Diet Coke. I get a Homer Simpson-esque orgasmic expression on my face when I even think about Diet Coke. This is only sometimes accompanied by drooling.
I drink Diet Coke socially, at restaurants with my friends or when someone brings a case to a get-together. I drink it on dates, especially when I'm nervous. I crave it when I'm sad or angry. When I'm upset and feel like doing something self-destructive, I buy a 2-liter bottle and down the whole thing while walking haphazardly down the street and crying. No lie. Happened a few weeks ago.
See? I'm a cokeaholic. I've spent most of my life so proud of myself for not being addicted to booze that I haven't given much thought to any other addictions I might have. About a year before my mission I noticed that I sometimes got the shakes when I needed a Diet Coke, or after drinking too much, so I cut down. But since returning from my mission I've pretty much fallen back into old habits.
Here's where the part of my thinking too much comes in. Tonight I was sitting my with roommate after a long day, taking swigs from a 2-liter Diet Coke and talking. I mentioned to her that I like the bitter taste of Coke, and she picked up on the "progeny of alcoholics" thing right there. Then I started telling her about how I will, naturally, stop drinking Diet Coke when I am pregnant. You know, I can quit any time I want. We googled "Caffeine and fetal health" and found evidence that Caffeine can lead to low-birthweight babies. Well duh. If something isn't good for people it can't possibly be good for tiny people growing inside you.
Here's the rub. I don't care enough about myself to give up Diet Coke for me. I would give it up for my future unborn child, because I would swim through a sea of thumbtacks for any of the kids I nanny for and they aren't even mine. But this raises a few questions:
1. What does it mean that I won't give up a destructive habit that I enjoy? OK, obviously Diet Coke is different from alcohol because it won't significantly shorten my life. Nor does it impair judgment or tear apart families. To my knowledge. But it's not good for my body. Unlike chocolate or ice cream, it's apparently not even good for you in reasonable doses. Does my Diet Coke addiction indicate a lack of self-love? Not that I care. Here's the question I really care about:
2. Does my Diet Coke addiction bother God? Allow me to show you a chart I found on the internet. I'm actually going to just copy down the numbers that interest me.
Column A is a certain beverage. Column B is the milligrams of caffeine in 8 liquid ounces.
Red Bull 80.00
Diet Coke 45.6
Dr Pepper 41.0
Nestea Iced 26.5
Drip Coffee 115-175
Brewed Coffee 80-135
Black Tea 40
Green Tea 15
Hot Cocoa 14
For those unfamiliar, the LDS health code forbids coffee in all forms (including decaf), black tea, green tea, and white tea. Neither God Himself nor any of His representative have ever offered definitive word on the subject, but many speculate that those items are forbidden because addiction is evil, caffeine is addictive, and the aforementioned items contain caffeine. It's a simple syllogism. However: we have been counseled that whether or not to consume caffeinated soft drinks is an individual decision. Note that Diet Coke has more caffeine than all forms of tea. Even hot cocoa, the Mormon hot drink mainstay, has almost the same amount of caffeine as the forbidden green tea.
God is omniscient. He knows exactly how many freaking milligrams of caffeine is in every beverage in the universe. If His real concern were caffeine, he would have gotten with the times and forbidden caffeinated soft drinks, and possibly Swiss Miss decades ago. But that's not the issue, apparently. What is it? I don't know.
I could easily use these findings to justify my continued consumption of Diet Coke. But that's not where my thoughts are leading me at all. It's leading me to wonder, is there another reason why Diet Coke is bad for me that I don't see? It makes me think I should give it up just in case caffeine is the real issue, or because there might be some other poison in it that could kill me. or that would disappoint my Heavenly Father.
That's not even the conclusion I was leading myself to when I started this entry. My head is spinning.