Liberation and Pooping

Seeing Things as They Really Are Ain’t Always Pretty

Tom Nickel
5 min readJul 2, 2023
Image Source: Dezgo, Stable Diffusion

I have never hidden my habits but I don’t broadcast them either.

I’m 74, which I call “semi-old,” full of energy and generally enthusiastic about life.

I have been programming my bio-computer for decades. Consciously using chemicals to be how I want to be.

It worked well. The story I tell myself about my life includes difficult times and sadness, exhilarating times and joy. Substances I used daily for decades played a crucial supporting role.

My allies were from the plant world, lower frequency vibratory powers. They helped keep me grounded but they also limited my attunement to higher frequencies. They obscured certain aspects of how things really are.

I didn’t exactly 86 caffeine, alcohol and cannabinoids. I turned my attention elsewhere, toward the Buddhist Precepts.

With former allies no longer present, I’m seeing and feeling things I haven’t for decades.

Some of it is easy to love. Some of it isn’t.

When people make fundamental life changes they usually dwell on the easy to love part. Why the heck else would you do it?

I’m taking that part as it comes, and focusing here on what isn’t easy to love.

Mostly it has to do with my body, or more to the point, my feeling of embodiment.

I have always considered my body to be grossly tuned, as opposed to finely-tuned. Finely-tuned bodies react strongly to the slightest input. Half an aspirin impacts finely tuned bodies powerfully. Inhabitants of finely-tuned bodies need to be careful. Finely tuned bodies get knocked out of normal equilibrium easily.

For decades I did whatever I wanted to my body and it just kept striding along more or less the same. I exercised it regularly because I enjoyed it and ate mostly good foods, when I was hungry.

I also ingested controlled substances at will, had a coffee IV running all day, and turned off the motor with an alcohol sledgehammer every night. I never drank before 8pm because I didn’t want to.

I slept 5–6 hours per night throughout my body’s 30s, 40s and 50s.

I wasn’t careful. I’m not good at careful.

I figured I was lucky to have a grossly-tuned body

If I paid a price for my carelessness, I did not experience it.

I did not jettison my plant kingdom helpers because my life style was finally catching up with me. I jettisoned them because I saw a more attractive alternative — living according to the Precepts.

My grossly tuned body was almost certainly sending me signals that I could apparently afford to ignore. I didn’t consciously decide to start paying attention. Paying attention simply happened as an unintended consequence of what I wanted to do. A somewhat unwanted unintended consequence.

Usually when people shed allies no longer serving them well, they say they feel like a million bucks.

I don’t.

I’m writing this piece because you might not either.

My mind is an idea-works enjoying itself, but my body is, for now, in constant low-level discomfort mode. It doesn’t feel ‘right.’ When it’s tired, it feels tired. My neck is a little stiff, a lot. I have a little headache, a lot.

I could tamp down these signals with aspirin, but I am not, or at least not much. Instead, I’m trying to practice the fine art of noticing my body without becoming preoccupied with its areas of discomfort.

I believe it will take months, maybe years to adjust to the absence of my daily support substances.

My goal is to walk freely in the world, period.

It’s a lot for my physical body to get used to and it is letting me know in no uncertain terms.

I consider pooping as a key barometer.

It’s great to start each day with a nice big easy poop. I used to do that most days. Even after a blood cancer found me over fifteen years ago and chemo did a number on my stomach, my easy poops came back after a short period.

This is no longer the case. I have no idea what’s going to happen when I sit on the throne first thing in the morning. Maybe nothing, which just feels wrong. Significant effort is required to conjure up anything.

But this too seems to be changing, slowly.

Homeostasis is a beautiful thing.

Caught up in a dose of daily not-feeling-so-great, we can lose sight of the bigger adjustments taking place. It happens in baby steps, which means both small and non-linear.

The main thing I have had to relearn at my semi-old age is how to sleep without sleep aids. It was very challenging at first, but it turns out to be, for me anyway, a relatively quick adjustment. I’m not sleeping like I used to, but I’m sleeping.

I’m also not pooping like I used to and it will clearly take much longer before it feels satisfying.

I share this discussion of topics not usually shared and generally considered impolite, even juvenile perhaps, for the benefit of fellow travelers.

I am juvenile and anyone contemplating new allies or even no allies should see themselves as very young.

But at the same time, anyone who wants to be freer should see themselves as old enough to understand it’s a long game that can end at any minute or maybe not for a long long time. Long enough to relearn pooping.

Image by David Denton

Tom writes about new media technologies and other topics he has little if any standing to write about. He maintains a daily practice of meditation and serves as a Session Leader for Tripp.

He holds a Black Belt in Learning and loves writing. More here.

You can join a small but growing number of people like you who subscribe to his little gumballs of text for free on Sub-Stack.



Tom Nickel

Learning Technologist focusing on VR, Video, and Mortality … producer of Less Than One Minute and 360 degree videos