1. a desire for food or drink.
2. a desire to satisfy any bodily need or craving.
3. a desire or liking for something; fondness; taste. [Courtesy: Dictionary.com]
Wouldn’t it be a relief, a release, however incredible the situation? You keep desiring to be rid of so many desires, because modern wisdom has convinced you that all want is evil, unless it is painfully got, and can only be justified by further suffering. That you must suffer for your health, for your happiness, because all other easy pleasures lead to more or a different kind of suffering. Ultimately, modern life is a choice between the good kind of suffering, and the bad kind of suffering. And no one knows for sure which is which.
I came down with viral fever and a throat infection about ten days ago. It wasn’t confirmed that it was viral fever at the time, and I had to be tested for malaria, dengue et al. My throat hasn’t fully recovered yet, but I haven’t had a high temperature in about a week. However, since the onset of the thing, I’ve had absolutely no appetite. For food, for life.
It is strangely liberating. I’ve always found throwing up to be symbolic in my life. Everytime I’m too stressed, have too much on my plate, I literally throw up and then let go of some of the things, because I’m just not strong enough to keep juggling. Or in this case, too ill to care. Too preoccupied with present suffering, to worry about future worries. It was a relief to be completely oblivious to everything that was going on, and now that I’m a lot better, I don’t want to invite many of them back.
Losing weight was one of my resolutions at the start of this year. Highly unimaginative, but not something I often covet myself. Sure, I’d like to be a little less squidgy in places, but I never thought it was a big deal, and I was certainly not going to compromise on my food choices. It is one of the last dependable, pleasure myths after all. Eat, feel good, repeat. There’s not much (least of all, love) that you can say the same about.
But, I tried to be good anyway. At the start of my illness, I had lost five kg from January, which was after a lot of exercising. Within two days, I lost two kg more. I have no desire to eat even when I’m hungry, and nothing remotely demands a second spoonful. Tea feels like cough syrup.
I must point out that much of this ad nauseum nausea and loss of appetite has to do with my throat. Initially, I physically found it impossible to swallow most things. Things have gotten better with each day, but as to the actual, normative, unconscious habit of wanting food, I feel nothing. Other attributes include staying quiet because it is difficult to speak, or even sing. For the first seven days I was more or less without devices as well, and I didn’t miss it. Denying pleasure is one thing. Being oblivious of pleasure, to the point where you don’t even think about missing it, is a curious position to be in.
The past few days, I’ve been thinking about worries. I carry so many of those around all the time, big and small, and they never seem to go away. They’re like a never-ending to-do list, no a grid, no a map covering all walls in a room that is continually closing in on me. But, when I was burning up, I had only one worry on my mind – that this does not turn into something more. That this does not remind me that I am finite.
I am not much for thinking about death. My existential crisis has more to do with how to live, than ‘what if I die’. I’ve never been much for romanticizing death either. No one, no thinker of any ilk, knows exactly what happens when you are dying. You only find out when it is too late to tell anybody. I can’t buy the idea of some people dying painlessly. How did you measure it? The very fact that something is causing your heart to stop, for circulation to cease, is cause enough for your body to warn you about it. And that warning is biologically realised in the form of pain.
Substituting my orchestra of worries with one grand instrument of worry reminded me how precious pleasure is. Not that I need any convincing of that at any other time. I’ve been told my problem is I love pleasure too much. That I am too weak in front of its charms, too sensual, lacking in resolve. But, I’d rather live for its consequences than feel absolutely nothing at all. This illness had nothing to do with my lifestyle choices, all those elements of guilt available to me for any other suffering or ailment. It was contagious, a bolt out of the blue, erasing all present concern and throwing me in a state I didn’t anticipate, and had no idea how to get out of. But, it would have been easier if I could have indulged in some form of pleasure, but I did not have the appetite for it. And that was the worst of it all.
I hope all has been good in the blogging world! I hope to catch up with your blogs soon. How have you been?