In ancient Egypt, around 400 to 55 A.D., the fad of the day was for men to become hermits. Some lived alone, while others lived in monasteries, but most of them knew one another and on Sundays they all gathered for Mass.
According to one story, the last hermit to arrive to the monastery one day was refused entry because of his disheveled appearance -- until they realized the man was the one they knew as Anthony, later St. Anthony.
For those of you unfamiliar with St. Anthony, he is said to have lived a life of miracles. The story goes that he lived to be 103 years old despite subsisting on a diet of only bread and water.
Fast forward to today, to another tale of a man denied because of his appearance. Small in stature, unshaven and unbathed, he appeared for breakfast one day at a corner diner, but the waitress assigned to his station refused to serve him. Another waitress agreed to wait on him instead, and treated him as she would any other patron – with kindness and respect. She even bought him his second cup of coffee. The story goes that he died a year later, leaving the kind waitress more than a million dollars.
The moral of such stories is that you never know who you may be dealing with, and that we should treat all people equally despite their appearance, religion, ethnicity or personal beliefs. That is what the Bible says. They may be saints, or they may have the intent to bestow gifts of gratitude upon the first kind soul they meet that day.
Unfortunately, today we live in an upside down world where belligerence and ignorance is not only accepted but often applauded. Turn on the news any day of any hour of the week and you’ll either hear stories of hatred and discrimination, or you’ll see two clowns arguing over the latest political talking point. Both are usually wrong, and both are usually equally arrogant. These people know not how to behave properly or how to treat other people, yet they’ll harp on one another as if they’re experts on those things and more! They are also unaware of the severe and dangerous stress they are building inside them, and how this stress will ultimately sicken or kill them. They are already sick in the mind, and despite the fact they may be wealthy and enjoy prestigious careers acting like an idiots, are certainly not happy. Happy people don’t argue with their fellow men for the sake of inflating their own egos.
Doctors’ offices today are filled with people who are “stressed out,” usually by their own inability to cope with the lives they have built for themselves. They are unconsciously building stress with their secret fears, and are dwelling on things they cannot change. I read a story about an 8-year-old boy who when asked what he was afraid of, said “dying.” How sad is it that a little boy, who should be concerned only with playing and doing well in school, is afraid of dying?
In these days much courage and calmness must be practiced. We need to stop the unnecessary running around, which makes our lives hectic. We must get rid of offensive thoughts about how we are going to deal with the economy or the political situation. These are not thoughts that should occupy the mind, for life is so much greater than those ultimately trivial issues. We must refocus on living our own lives as best we can, to be the best people we can be; fretting about who the president is, or who will be the next president, or how will we turn the economy around, is wasted thought and wasted energy that could be better used thinking constructively or coming up with a solution to your life’s own issues.
Diet is one of the best tools to help you through. Learn how to cook, and educate yourself on what foods feed your body band mind, instead of polluting it and contributing to break down. Learn about vitamins and minerals, about how the elements on the periodic table you learned in sixth grade factor into good health. Read good books and magazines, and articles about food and health. This is a pleasant way to pass the time, instead of rotting your brain in front of a television listening to misguided opinions about war, money and politics, or any of the other garbage that pollutes the airwaves. Reading about good stuff will calm your mind, instead of getting you worked up about things you cannot change.
Start this New Year right by getting right with yourself. Start incorporating more fruits, vegetables and herbs into your diet, and reap the rewards.
Anthony Scarano is not a doctor. He is an 88-year-old Evergreen Park resident, winemaker and certified naturopath. Suggestions in this space are solely the opinions of Mr. Scarano based on years of independent study and personal experience, and may not be beneficial to health. Wine should be consumed in moderation, as overindulgence may be harmful to health.