Better Living Through Chemistry
I see why gurus talk about the useful pun in the word “enlightenment”, as in “lighten up.” When I arrive at the moment, my thick thought-cloud evaporates; it’s just now, and ahh…I inhale and arrive. And am buoyed.
Then I go back to the fray, thinking about what I just did and what’s next and the cloud returns. This cloud can sometimes feel like depression to me, or like a heavy feeling of waits dragging me down: Wait ‘till the weekend; wait till I get a lot of money; wait to live.
Which leads me to chemistry, and how I’ve dealt with my tendency to be somewhat downbeat over the years.
When I was caught in the long dark night of my first marriage; those waning years when I was faced with successive miscarriages, and a slowly dying love and sex life, I did what any red blooded male American boomer in my position did in the late 1980’s: I started doing coke.
Not a lot, mind you. But enough to give me a scare and decide to blow the whistle on myself before it got out of hand, which it was just beginning to do.
Sitting there one night, struggling over whether to do some lines I’d just laid out for myself, I (like a good Gestalt- therapist-to-be) forced myself to sit quietly for a minute and have a talk with myself.
Me: You can’t do this anymore, Charley. You’re starting to lose control!
Myself: I just like it!
Me: Oh yeah? Why?
Myself: It just soothes me, and makes me feel confident.
Me: Hmmm. Where?
Me: Where in your body do you feel soothed; confident?
Myself: (staring at the coke and anticipating the feeling) In my chest, and…my solar plexus.
Me: Ok. Well, you’re sober at the moment. What does your chest and solar plexus feel like now?
Myself: Empty; hollow. I feel like that Paul Simon song where he sings, “Why am I so soft in the middle now, when the rest of my life is so hard?”
I realized that moment that the urge to do something to soothe or bolster myself wasn’t a bad thing. It was a healthy impulse to take care of myself, one that got diverted and perverted by using coke. So I made a deal with myself. If I stopped the cocaine, I had to find another, healthier way to take care of me. I was already in therapy by that time, so I was on that road. But what about the pure chemistry of the matter? What would be a healthy way to soothe and bolster my body?
And that, children, is how Charley became a confirmed chocoholic.
I started experimenting with dark chocolate, including one night where I ate a couple of cubes of baker’s chocolate to see the effect. It tasted awful, but it worked! Much more subtly than coke, of course. But also without all of those awful down sides. I was sold.
I started eating dark chocolate daily (and I’m talking cocoa content of at least 65% and usually 75% or 80%). Over the years much has come out about how it soothes loneliness, or (supposedly) gives one the feeling of being in love. About how it’s good for the cholesterol and the immunity. But for me it mostly helps my mood; helps me think better.
There were times when I even thought – this stuff’s legal? My thoughts were confirmed when Andrew Weil wrote a book about drugs and called it, “From Chocolate to Morphine.” And then there’s the cover I once saw of High Times magazine back in the ‘70s…
Which points to another of chocolate’s qualities. (Take a real good look at that photo). Do enough chocolate at one time, and there’ll be another part of your body, way below the chest and solar plexus, that will thank you. The next time you worship at the Temple Of The Sacred Slosh, it can help you feel erotically luxurious. At least that’s what it does for me. And hey, I need all the help I can get at my age.
And while we’re at it, I might as well share this with you. I’ve checked out dozens and dozens of brands over the years. But recently I discovered a local boutique enterprise, the first one I’ve ever come across that seems to actually understand the chemistry of chocolate and tries to enhance it, and succeeds.
Gnossis Chocolate is a small, women-owned-and-run company in Long Island City. They clearly charge way too much for their products…until you try them, that is. One of their bars, called SuperChoc has ingredients synergistic with chocolate’s effects, including Gogi berries, maca root, siberian ginseng, ginkgo Biloba, Gotu Kola, blue green Algae, and a dozen other supplements. Its effects are … well at 9 bucks for a two ounce bar, it better be good! I eat a third of that bar and I’m good for quite a while.
Then there’s their Aphrodesia Bar, which includes, yohimbe, figs, something called Horny Goat Weed, Dong Quai (whatever that is) and many other ingredients. All I can say is, the next time you plan to have an orgasm, take it along.
The point is, I’ve found that in my life, for whatever reason, chocolate helps. Like everyone, I’m an emotional and psychological being; an intellectual being; a spiritual one. But there’s also simply that aspect of who I am that’s just chemistry. We each live in a chemical pool. We might as well learn how to swim in it.
PS: I’m still in the process of renaming this blog. How’s Unchained Melody? No, not like the song (and no one under 40 would get the reference anyway). I like the feel of the first word…and the second as well.
Or how’s — Chuck Unchained?
Hey, I’m still working on it.