Chocolate and Me

chocolate 

  • : a food that is made from cacao beans and that is eaten as candy or used as a flavoring ingredient in other sweets

Let me just say, milk chocolate is for wimps, but there are many kinds of fine dark chocolate. Chocolate has thrilled our taste buds since the Mayans concocted a drink from the cacao bean about 2000 B.C. We’ve had many years to get it right and I’m willing to keep testing until we attain perfection. My own history with chocolate is fraught with many ups and downs. As a child I could consume my body weight in chocolate, but soon my body weight became the reason I decided to deny myself chocolate. Too much chocolate could lead to bigger hips and zits . Chocolate became a “bad” food and I wanted to be good. Today I am a big fan of dark chocolate and have some almost everyday. I enjoy it and don’t need much of it to satisfy me. As I’ve aged I’ve chosen the  path of self-satisfaction over self-denial.

Chocolate isn’t the only thing I no longer deny myself. I don’t function well on the all or nothing, or never and always teeter-totter. The only thing that is not on any sort of continuum is death. There is no such thing as less or more dead. Today I think it distills down to my wants, what motivates me, and what fosters self-love. Simply, chocolate is “good”and I’m “good”. I may not run everyday, but 5 days a week is great. I don’t write for 5 hours a day but 2 hours a day is  pretty good. I’m much more gentle with myself and I’ve put the mental whip away. The cliche “Everything in moderation” doesn’t piss me off as much as it once did. Maybe I’m too tired to be outraged at myself. I’m not the lowliest, ugliest creature on this planet if I eat that chocolate cookie or buy myself something I don’t need just because I want it. The whole world and my personal world does not come to a grinding halt if littl’ ole’ me ate 2 pieces of chocolate yesterday.

Feeling awful about indulging in behaviors I considered negative actually set me up to indulge even more. In my eating disorder days I could go for months sticking to my strict eating plan, but if I slipped up and ate one morsel more than I thought I should, it was off to the races and a major binge. And then feeling even worse…. The highs and the lows took a toll on my well-being. What I hated the most was feeling out of control. I was O.K. If I felt in control. I got better when I learned and practiced self-love, and decided I was imperfect,but enough. Allowing myself to be a flawed human being,and occasionally  indulging myself myself with a special pleasure,is a much gentler way to live.

So I think we should talk some more about chocolate. Dark chocolate has an excellent nutrition profile, it’s a rich source of antioxidants. Couverture refers to the highest quality of chocolate, and I don’t think Iv’e ever tasted it so that’s on my chocolate bucket list. Both the texture and flavor of couverture chocolate is supreme. Really  good chocolate is a little bit of heaven on earth.

The Duck Test 1/6/2020

Ah, the duck test form of reasoning. This is its usual expression: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Yup, that’s a duck.You can argue that something is not what it appears to be; i.e., the animal  barking, peeing on the fire hydrant and licking my face is a duck, but I think we can all agree this assertion is absurd. In 1950, the United States ambassador to Guatemala said it this way, when he accused Guatemala’s leader of being a communist:

Suppose you see a bird walking around in a farm yard. This bird has no label that says ‘duck’. But the bird certainly looks like a duck. Also, he goes to the pond and you notice that he swims like a duck. Then he opens his beak and quacks like a duck. Well, by this time you have probably reached the conclusion that the bird is a duck, whether he’s wearing a label or not.

I rather like ducks, but of course I’m not really talking about ducks. In Cowboy and Indian movies, we could safely assume “We come in peace.”  was a lie when bullets and arrows  started flying. We’ve all seen hours of footage of the insurrection at the Capitol last year on Jan. 6.  We saw police officers being assaulted with flagpoles, fire extinguishers, bear spray and whatever else could be used as a weapon. Entry was gained by smashing windows, breaking down doors and pushing through barricades and ropes. We saw rioters carrying confederate flags,and breaking into congressional offices. We heard chants like“Hang Mike Pence” and “Where is Nancy?  and were told “Trump sent us.” We could all see the hanging noose on the scaffolding and the zip ties. Congress and Senators feared for their lives and were rushed out of their chambers.  During the siege, rioters defecated and smeared feces. Property in the Capitol was damaged or destroyed. 140 Capitol and metro police officers were injured. These are the facts. How do we know?  We saw it with our own eyes and heard it with our own ears. It was on live T.V. for God’s sake!

The night of January 6 and the day after, there was no disagreement on what had happened . Both sides of the aisle condemned the violence they had seen, heard and felt. And then, very soon, a la Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” theory, something sinister began to happen. What we all saw was not what really happened!  The rioters were actually AntiFa  dressed as MAGA supporters. Or it was a peaceful protest. Or the rioters were patriots trying to stop the certification of votes in a fraudulent election. The most blatant and sick confabulation of January 6 was by Congressman Andrew Clyde:

Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall, showed people in an orderly fashion in between the stanchion and ropes taking pictures. If you didn’t know the footage was from January 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” Clyde said.  

Was he watching the same live T.V show or was he even on the same planet as the rest of us? I know—I bet he thought it was a duck!

As we get further from January 6, 2020, the unpalatable facts are being spiced up, and new ingredients are being added so the soup is more palatable. Maybe it wasn’t that bad? Our Democracy depends on our consensus of what Democracy looks like and what Authoritarianism looks like. We desperately need to apply the duck test. 

The Big C

No, I don’t mean cancer, I mean curiosity.

curious: \ˈkyu̇r-ē-əs\. :having a desire to learn, investigate or know more about something or someone; :strange, unusual, or unexpected.

I am insanely curious. My life is lit by a large neon question mark. It’s safe to say I am a lifelong learner, even though I haven’t set foot in a traditional classroom for many years. What’s great is that I don’t have to motivate myself to study whatever interests me. I don’t need that course in Statistics to get my degree any longer, so I get to set my own learning plan. I go where my questions lead me.

There are 2 kinds of learning: intellectual learning and emotional learning, and I have the most difficulty with emotional learning. The psychologist, Eric Erickson, believed humans have 8 life stages, and each stage of life involves learning tasks that help set up readiness for the next life stage. Having failed to learn what I needed to learn, I grew older but was still emotionally stuck in prior life stages.  In this sense, there is a learning plan and emotional lessons for a fulfilling and successful life. It was my curiosity, my questions about why I consistently made poor choices—and my desperation, that led me to therapy’s door. At first I resisted looking at the “Why?” of my behaviors and preferred blaming others for my problems. Following my curiosity to self-awareness was a bumpy ride, and satisfying my curiosity was often painful. I was the ostrich with my head in the sand and not the least bit curious, because my fear was paralyzing. I am so grateful to those who gently helped me explore how I got stuck and helped me learn new behaviors. 

We all know that “Curiosity killed the cat.” Most often we take this to mean that curiosity is prying and intrusive and leads to bad outcomes. BUT did you know the complete saying is “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.”? The edit cutting the second half of this quote changes it’s true meaning.  The real meaning actually encourages people to be  curious instead of killing their curiosity, and especially when they can learn about something  new which is “satisfying”. Consider these quotes: “Curiosity killed the cat, but when humans are concerned, the only thing a healthy curiosity can kill is ignorance.” by Harry Lorayne; or “Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it sure saved my ass.” by Michael J. Fox. Can we be “too” curious when our intention is to use the information for gossip or to harm someone? Certainly people have a right to privacy and we all know how devastating damaged reputations can be. I want my private life to remain private. Does privacy trump, pun intended, incriminating and dangerous information risking the public good and safety? What  do we have a right to know? The Freedom of Information Act includes what information?

All world and life changing discoveries began with a question, a curiosity about what we didn’t know. The polio vaccine and penicillin were created by curious scientists asking questions and testing and more testing. What if they had said we don’t know and there is no way to know? When there is a cure for Cancer and Alzheimer’s no one will say “I wish we had stopped looking for a cure, we shouldn’t have been so curious.” The little boy and girl staring up at the night sky and wondering about the moon grew up and helped put a man on the moon. Justice depends on investigation and needing to know who is guilty. Justice is blind but forensics can not afford to limit investigation when there are still questions. Just think about how many people have been exonerated by DNA testing which was not available when they were convicted.

I live and learn, and my life is enriched by what I have and will learn. Of course, I accept that what I know is  infinitesimal to what is knowable, but I won’t stop learning.  I’ve learned things by reading, doing, and feeling and using all my senses. I don’t want to stop being curious even when what I am most curious about is “What happens when I die?” Now I have to go look up the Freedom of Information Act because I’m curious about it.