As I washed dishes after dinner tonight I began to think of the nature of pleasure. Mostly this was brought about because my husband and I had just finished a low-carb dinner: bison meatloaf, cauliflower, sautéed mushrooms. During the meal I thought about how we usually had meatloaf with creamy, rich mashed potatoes. Yum.
While I scrubbed I thought of those potatoes. Then I thought of pasta, cheesecake, cookies, scones. I thought of how I don’t do well with a lot of sugary carbs–I have the “I can’t stop at just one Reese’s cup” problem. People often decry low-carb diets for “cutting out an entire food group!” and exhort you to “eat carbs in moderation!”. They often remind me, too, of how pleasurable carbs are. “Remember cookies? Cakes? Frosting? Tarts? Pasta?”
Remember?! How could I forget?
As this warred back and forth in my mind, suddenly the image of the Moon card popped up in my mind.
I saw how her face was alight with moonbeams. The pleasure we feel when we (rightly) indulge ourselves, perhaps in a decadent dessert, perhaps in a spontaneous (or planned, as we parents know!) romp in the sheets with our lover/spouse. When we pamper ourselves after a long day of work. Or perhaps when we finally give in to doing nothing, just being sensual in our present experience.
But pleasure is so slippery, isn’t it? Too much and you’re not just drunk; you’re hung over. You’re not just in love; you’re obsessed. You’re not just moaning, “mmm!” while you eat lava cake; you have heart disease. It seems extreme, I know, but is it? What tempers pleasure but restraint, self-discipline? Those Puritan words I shy away from.
I don’t think pleasure should be demonized, but I do feel that it comes with a very real, very palpable (even when you’re indulging in them) dark(er) side. That’s what makes them pleasurable, right? That’s what makes us long and desire those experiences. Because we’re touching some…darker, perhaps? deeper? experience.
But the Moon card reminds us that though that slippery slope, though that brief detour thrills us–as it should, as we need from time to time–going too far can be full of perils. You can lose your way; you can start to take illusions for reality.
I know, all of this about a macronutrient, right? But I think it fits and fits well. I deny myself the pleasure of the everyday cookie because at some point it began to make me sick. I felt awful. Now, instead of the everyday cookie (or five, or a dozen–no joke) I indulge in some food-related experience a week. Hey–I love food. It’s one of my passions. Telling me to get a manicure instead is just not going to cut it, ya know? But I make sure it’s special. I make sure I share it–usually an excellent wine and some spectacular cheese or gooey dessert, homemade.
It also means that I have to limit my carbs, and not just the cookies, because without limiting all of them then I’m not able to just eat a little dessert when the time is right. I go back to eating the whole fucking cake.
I’m grateful for this sink-side epiphany. Many times this week I’ve just wanted to give in! Eat the cookie! Cook the easier side dish! But I’m reminded that I must, must temper this desire. For my health, and for my future pleasures.