Taste of Chocolate: No. 13 of 40 Forts
It all began with reading the summary text for Green Barbarians by Ellen Sandbeck after noticing it at the National Building Museum bookstore. The book instantly appealed to me because it promised to make me feel less guilty about the fact that I haven’t vacuumed in maybe a month, even with an infant crawling around.
A few studies from the summary text were stunning. STUNNING. One was a not that surprising. All of the perfumes and air fresheners are bad for you. Someone’s dog was coughing and the vet suggested they throw out the plug-in’s. The cough disappeared. I HATE any type of air freshener. HATE IT. It bothers me. But maybe it bothers me because it prevents me from assessing my surroundings.
One result of being pregnant and a new mom is your senses turn you into a super-sense super hero. Before I was pregnant, I could smell if someone left the pizza restaurant while passing them on the street. I could also smell if an iron was hot several feet away. After I was pregnant, I could smell if someone was eating ketchup in our alley. Okay, not quite that super-sonic, but very, very close. I personally believe that all of this stems from my poor vision and my life-long fear I would not be able to see my baby if our house caught on fire. All thanks to a super scary Little House on the Prairie Episode, during which Mary starts to lose her vision and she sets the house on fire. I could be blurring multiple episodes together.
The study that did stun me involved the following text about women smelling unwashed t-shirts. It knocked my socks off:
The women tended to prefer the scent of the men whose immune systems were the most different from their own, and many stated that the odors they preferred reminded them of their boyfriends. In contrast, pregnant mice and women who are on birth control pills (whose estrogen levels are artificially elevated) tend to prefer the smells of males whose immune systems are similar to their own. Scientists speculate that the reversal of preference occurs because it is advantageous for pregnant females to be surrounded by close relatives.
Evolutionary psychologist Steven Gangestad of the University of New Mexico took this concept a step further, and conducted a study that found that women whose immune systems were genetically very different from their male partners’ seemed much happier in their relationships and were much less likely to fantasize about, or have sex with, other men, while women who were genetically similar to their partners were more likely to “wander.” Men’s attitudes toward sex, on the other hand, were unaffected by their genetic similarity or dissimilarity to their partners.
Ummm… hello! Why isn’t this bigger news? Don’t you think that this would help keep the divorce rate down? I know that there are lots of reasons for birth control beyond the first thing that comes to mind. But I just thought, wow. That is not listed in the side effects along with risk of stroke, elevated blood pressure, whatever. I am certain that since Lucy’s arrival, I have thought of all the ways I can have my family closer to me. So there is some personal truth to wanting your tribe there to help you.
So with all of these thoughts about different elements of society that bombard our senses, I sat down to create the fort. I used this page of luscious dark chocolate, because chocolate is so sensual. People have very passionate reactions to it, including those, like Henry, who do not like chocolate. Sometimes it is good for you, other times not. Clearly it refers to one of our strongest senses – taste. And after a long week of making forts, I was just pulling together for something a little more abstract.
Still mainly thinking about the sense of smell, one of my stronger senses, I wrote:
She was wary of anything that blocked her senses.
Then the next day, I was bombarded with other ways sense were being bombarded. All of the time.
Reading this post about using sugar as a way to avoid emotions was pretty amazing.
I realized that my life IS stressful…not anymore than most people’s but still….it’s stressful.
and i had been eating all the stress.
if i felt anything i would eat.
then the feeling would go away somewhat.
i would feel more calm and regulated emotionally.
so now that i was not eating sugar….
i was feeling all these feelings because there was nothing to eat!
it was a light bulb moment…as oprah likes to call it.
(oprah really is like a household name…i can’t remember my life before she was around??? ha!)
God wants me to feel those feelings. (hey wait…oprah didn’t tell me that!)
they are there for a reason.
not because He wants me to be sad…but because i need to work on giving myself to HIM over and over.
and ignoring the feelings by eating them away (so to speak) is wrong.
when i feel that frustration…that emotion…and i want it to go away…i have a choice.
do i deal with it or stuff it down somewhere with a snack?
do i pray about it? do i think about it? or just pretend it’s not there and eat something?
I know that it is the Southern way to eat your way out of anything. Look at any family event. There is food, food and more food. The ultimate food experience, a funeral starts with the simple question, “Where do we bring the food?” You receive a book to make a list of food and stickers to correspond with the dish to easily return it to the rightful owner. Is that how we get fat and happy? Cram those emotions deep down and cover them with a sweet dose of sugar on top?
Then I read the comments. Wow. Seriously. It was all about people giving up sweets for Lent. When I first picked the chocolate, I thought about the beneficial properties. But here it was obvious that chocolate was more than that. More than I can even begin to get into right here.
And then as Lucy and I sat listening to the radio, I heard a piece by a Lynn Peterson Mobley talking about, well, talking. Talking on the phone while driving. And all that she misses out on that hour and a half she zones out on her way to and from work.
So that is just three of our five senses (smell, taste and vision). And, of course, I love to count the sixth sense, as well. It just made me realize that there is reason to be wary of all of the things that block my senses. And when I start looking there are way more things that are battering my senses daily than I could have ever imagined.
This paper sculpture, roughly the size of a coffee cup, is one of forty forts I created during Lent 2010 as a creative exercise and spiritual exploration.