Comfort Food Part 1: Coping with Life Past 50

      Comfort Food (Essay, Part 1)

When I turned 50 I jumped into Payette Lake with my swimsuit on and then beneath the screen of green-black lake water, I took it off. It was a two-piece so as I tread water I fumbled first with the bottom half, trying to curl it off over my hips, and then the top, which was stretched like a tight rubber band across my chest.  I didn’t care that there were three or four people staring at me on the dock where I slung the two parts of my swimsuit; or that a few male swimmers seem to be circling nearby like sharks.  I was celebrating a half century of living.  I wanted to feel free and alive.  Still, as I slid my hand underwater over the skin of my cold belly and thighs, the image of a slick round dolphin came to mind and I sighed inwardly: if I want to live another fifty years, I needed to lose weight.

That somber thought seemed to trigger others as I dog-paddled farther and farther away from the dock.  What would life be like the next fifty years should I live so long?  No doubt I’d experience an increasing number of losses, my youth leading the list of greatest hits.  And how would I cope?  Drugs and alcohol never did much for me, but food, the very thing I needed to restrict, has always been my go-to pain killer.  Advil might help a back ache, but oven-fresh chocolate chip cookies can turn a bad mood good.  Food is cheap–and legal. Over-imbibing potato chips will not cause a car crash. It’s the least expensive fun you can have.  Cheaper than an amusement park, an ocean cruise, or a hot date.  Oprah, I’m sorry.  Emotional eating has its place.

Moby Dick

It’s high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.

“Call me Ishmael. some years ago–never mind how long precisely–having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.  It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.  Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.”

(from Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

Sunday Song, a Poem by John Tagliabue

Sunday Song (a poem)

Will you stop for a while, stop trying to pull yourself
for some clear “meaning”–some momentary summary?
no one
can have poetry or dances, prayers or climaxes all day’
the ordinary
blankness of little dramatic consciousness is good for the
health sometimes,
only Dostoevsky can be Dostoevskian at such long
long tumultuous stretches;
look what that intensity did to poor great Van Gogh;
scrounge and be stupid, that doesn’t take much centering
of one’s forces;
as wise Whitman said “lounge and invite the soul.” Get
enough sleep;
and not only because (as Cocteau said) “poetry is the
literature of sleep”;
be a dumb bell for a few minutes at least; we don’t want
Sunday church bells
ringing constantly.

(Title: Moderation Is Not a Negation of Intensity, But Helps Avoid Monotony

 by John Tagliabue)