JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

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November 24th, 2003 · No Comments

I can’t remember the last time I could breathe clearly. Today’s Day 6 or so of this cold. I’m at the raw-red-nose and two-boxes-of-Kleenex-a-day stage. Ick! I’m even taking OTC medicine – rare for me – and it doesn’t seem to be helping.

Now it’s not much, as far as illnesses in general, not much at all. But it helps me appreciate how much I need my nose!

In the past several days, I’ve had little appetite for food. I’ve come to recognize hunger as rumbling in my tummy rather than appealing aromas in my nose. I am though tempted to each junk food, maybe because I don’t feel too great, like salty chips or sweet cookies. But food in general has lost its appeal to me this week. There’s nothing I really WANT to eat….

I am looking forward to smelling again. Today, when tidying the bathrooms, I couldn’t smell the cleaners I was using. That seemed strange: sometimes I can’t stand the scents and have to turn on the fans. But it was a good day to wash the diapers and empty the pail! Make the most of it, I figured!

I am looking forward to smelling again, and to savoring and smelling a meal. Tonight I need to make my Thanksgiving shopping list so I can go pick up my turkey tomorrow. But I must confess that I feel little motivation to cook. The thought of slaving over a hot stove (well, not really, maybe over a hot oven, and with my sister and mom contributing too) to make tons of food that I can’t quite taste has little appeal to me. I don’t feel too energetic. Guess I’m glad we only have two guests coming for a low-key T-day. The only thing that appeals to me today is sleep.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about appetite this week, or my lack thereof. We live in a culture centered on hunger, one that encourages any and all appetites, a culture dependent on consumption. Want this, want that. Desire is power – power that is reined by marketers to direct our urges toward particular products. Desire is the power that pulls a family together, making husband and wife, and also the power that can pull it apart.

With this cold, I feel like cardboard, empty of all appetites. I don’t care about anything, from food to furniture. I’ve got low energy even for my husband and children. Right now as I’m typing, some phrase from The Matrix is coming to mind – isn’t this what makes us human? These desires?

And what is it to live without desires? To do something without the compelling passion. Is this duty? Discipline? Am I disciplining myself when I eat, slurping a bowl of soup, despite a lack of feeling hungry? Is discipline the opposite of appetite? Not necessarily. It’s ideal when they work together rather than against each other. Sometimes they can walk hand in hand.

Like right now for example. What I desire is sleep. So I should discipline myself so I can go to bed. Discipline to get desire.

But it’s been an interesting experience to have this cold, and to learn to live in a world without appetite or desire. It’s a bland world. A black and white world. A world without color. Or taste.

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