In the past, kids played outdoors and climbed trees to get fruits. We made our own kites to fly in open spaces. With only homemade toys and pets, we enjoyed the simple life with classmates and neighborhood playmates. On rainy afternoons, kids splashed in puddles in the driveway and garden.
At night, we gazed at the clear sky and made a wish on the first and brightest star. The secret wish was that time would stand still — that everything would remain the same.
We traced the constellations and waited for shooting stars.
Childhood was a happy, almost perfect time. We were not yet aware of the complications, problems and heartaches of adults.
In a way, we wanted to be children forever — like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.
Fast forward to the present.
We are in the period of liminality, on the threshold of the vague, uncertain future. We are all struggling to survive the pandemic. We are in limbo after severe personal and financial losses. The grim and shocking reality is a world reeling from the collapse and crumbling of the financial giants. There are natural disasters and wars that have devastated countries and severely affected the rest of the world.
Downsizing, simplicity and frugality are the buzzwords. (There are a few exceptions who are shock-proof.)
We are changing, transforming ourselves through discipline, will power, great effort, resilience, compassion, and sharing with others.
Growing up is a painful process.
To take a leap into the unknown is a challenge. We need to change our attitude and focus on priorities.
“All life itself represents a risk and the more lovingly we live our lives, the more risks we take…. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the making of action in spite of fear,” wrote M. Scott Peck.
We must remind the adult that the inner child still exists.
We should have hope.
What do people do when they feel distressed, blue, anxious, uncertain?
The aggressive ones take it out on others. There are incidents of road rage, violent confrontations, destructive behavior. These actions come from repressed emotions and frustration. Bullies pick on helpless, vulnerable, gentle people.
The adventurous flee to the mountains or the sea. They trek, climb, swim, fish. Being far away from the source of stress is the key.
The city-bound individual seeks a pacifier that is satisfying. Good food — from comfort food to haute cuisine with fine wine, a cocktail or beer, a cigar.
During the long lockdown and intermittent restrictions, people rushed to the beach, to the provinces for fresh air and a sense of safety in nature. The social ones continued to dance at private parties, and the quiet ones meditated at sunrise and sunset. In between, there were good meals to satisfy cravings.
The fitness buffs worked up a sweat, lifting weights, playing sports and running.
Couch potatoes watched movies, TV or sleep.
Workaholics plunged into their voluminous documents and worked on their computers at all hours.
What could provide instant relief to all?
Something forbidden, infinitely sinful, and fun — in the oral, calorific sense.
Get a temporary reality break. Get a fat fix. Break the diet. Eat comfort food on different levels — wine, chocolate, sweet pastries — anything with sugar, and junk food — salty chips and crackles.
Chocoholics swear that the best antidote for depression is a bite of a delicious bitter-sweet truffle, a decadent chocolate cake with caramel syrup, or a milk chocolate bar. The simple Chocnut was a childhood favorite and still is. Studies show that dark chocolate has more antioxidants. Chocolate has hormones that lift the mood and fight the blues.
Oral satisfaction in a chocolate fix is a tranquilizer par excellence. Stressed people crave a sweet nibble (A healthy raw carrot stick or a celery stalk is good for hunger pangs but it cannot offer the same comfort.)
Nothing appeases the appetite and calms anxiety more than the flavor and taste of premium chocolate. As a quick antidote to sadness, it is both a luxury and a necessity.
The natural tranquilizer contains ingredients like oxytocin, the “feel good” chemical released by the wondrous “high” of falling in love.
Although eating too many chocolates may ruin the figure and raise the sugar level, the instant “high” is worth every gram and centimeter gained. Who wants to be enviably lean and slim but mean and cranky? Deprivation makes people growl.
When the blues cover you in a hazy blanket, indulge!
Forget the calorie counter. Hide the weighing scale and the tape measure — for a while.
Self-denial and guilt (food and alcohol) are outré.
It is a matter of survival. A bite of chocolate is a pleasure with instant relief. It has healing qualities that alleviate or decrease pain, heart ache, and grief. (Forget retail therapy and the accumulation of accessories, jewelry, shoes and other objects that clutter your life.)
There is value in a little decadence… (caramel, vanilla cream, strawberry, champagne, and other rich flavors) after all!
It is also good for the spirit to pray, think, and share blessings with others. This practice lessens the stress and is calorie-free.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.