Blood Sugar

I have a theory. Let's call it "God is glucose." Or "sweet," if you prefer.

It's been just over four months that I have been keeping myself (as well as I can count) to 25 net carbs or fewer a day. I've lost I don't know how much weight and gone from not being able to fit into my size 12 stretchy jeans to needing to buy a new pair of 8s. (My goal is still the size 6s that I have from the last time I was my ideal weight, but I threw out all of the 8s that I had in last summer's decluttering, so I needed something to wear in the meantime other than my now-too-big 10s.) I am feeling not just less heavy but (every so often) almost positively thin (it comes and goes; my thighs are still quite heavy, but my waist is nearly firm). Even better, I find myself able to move on the strip in ways that I had thought I had lost forever along with my (relative) youth. When I look in the mirror, my face looks like my real face again (not the slightly puffy, older face that I have had for the past year or so). Mirabile dictu, I am almost willing to have my photograph taken, too. (Almost. If the lighting is good.)

And yet, something is...not quite there anymore. You'd think I'd be ecstatically happy about how much weight I've lost, how much stronger I feel, how much better I look. And I am. Happy, that is. Just not ecstatically so. But then I haven't felt ecstatic about anything in months. Not, at least, since I got my blood glucose levels down. Indeed, I haven't felt much of anything these past four months except almost surreally calm. My husband says something that used typically to upset me? No worries. I might get a little bit ruffled, even raise my voice a bit. But it isn't real. It's just going through the motions of being upset. I can't sustain it for more than a few minutes and then--poof!--it's gone. Likewise, I hear something about a colleague that I know I would have found extremely difficult to process a few months ago? It takes a little bit of effort, but, really, it isn't worth the bother to stay upset about for very long. Strangers who are rude to me? Colleagues who ask me to do something I don't want to do? Getting caught in traffic when I'm driving? They are simply not a problem anymore.

It could be all of the work that I've been doing in therapy the past year or so. I certainly hope that at least some of it is. But I am not entirely sure. Certainly, last night as we were taking in the sights of the city, I felt curiously detached, almost incapable of being moved by all of the temptations to sin. Even more important (which is something of what I was trying to articulate in my post this morning, but couldn't quite), nothing that I was seeing looked even halfway tempting. Not the clothes that the women were wearing, not the women's bodies (whom previously I would have envied or found aversive), not the men's (whom, theoretically at least, I might previously have lusted after). Like Tiffany Aching in Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men (which we were listening to on our drive), I found myself watching myself watching myself seeing through all of the Queen's lies, all of her efforts to control everyone, to make their dreams come true. It was all so much tinsel and glitter and no real joy. Masks that they were wearing to make themselves think that they were having fun. Desperate attempts at bending the gods of money and sex to their will. But it was all fake.

Except for one thing. The food. Particularly--you guessed it--the carbs. The ice cream. The cheesecake. The French fries. The pasta. It's been hard on the trip keeping my carb count accurate; those pesky sugars are even more devious than the Nac Mac Feegle at finding their way in. I'm guessing it was the dressing on the McSalads I've been having (I picked all of the corn chips off, but the chicken was already seasoned), but it could have been the half-and-half that I've been putting in my coffee (not organic like at home, so possibly sugared, even in the non-flavored pots). In any case, to judge from my appetite (which I also haven't really had in the last four months), my blood sugar is definitely up. I was ravenous last night as we wandered among the flesh pots. And, boy oh boy, did those carbs look good. I found myself nearly salivating over the ice cream, desperate for a taste. Just a taste. And then everything would be fine.

NOT. That was the Queen talking, I know. (For those of you who haven't yet read The Wee Free Men, just think Titania playing the White Witch from Narnia trying to convince Jill and Eustace that reality is a dream.) Or was it? Because, you see, I really would rather like to feel excited about something--anything--again. Not perhaps in the over-the-top adolescent way that I used to. But something, anything other than this extraordinary calm. I wonder sometimes whether this is what the saints feel after they have been fasting for so long. I sometimes even fancy myself feeling saintly. So calm. So detached. So unmoved by the things that used to excite or upset me. Like other people's bodies. Or the prospect of buying a new ornament for my body or home. I look at them (the bodies, the things) and just feel sad. The bodies seem so...ordinary, even the "beautiful" ones. And the things are just things, not talismans capable of saving me, making my life different, giving me comfort or joy. Worst of all are the people: so deadened by the Fairy Queen's lies. It's as if they don't even have souls anymore, just things that they think are desires.

But then I don't even have desires anymore. Okay, that's not quite true. I'm no Buddha. Nor am I (fancy myself though I might) anywhere close to being a saint (read: fully myself, purified, realizing the image and likeness of God in which I am made). But even so, surely saints have desires, if only the desire for God. I can't even feel that anymore. Not, at least, with the hunger that I used to. Perhaps that was fake as well. No, that can't be right. It can't be right not to feel. It can't be right to be so detached from life, to feel nothing of the passion with which I used to pursue my old gods, even if they were only idols. Was it really all just the sugar, after all?

Philosopher Robert C. Solomon has argued for what he calls a "New Romanticism," recognizing the importance of emotions for what we might otherwise call "the meaning of life":

Emotions [he writes] are the life force of the soul, the source of most of our values (not all; there is always hunger, thirst, and fatigue), the basis of most other passions.... Emotions are said to distort our reality; I argue that they are responsible for it. Emotions are said to divide us from our interests and lead us astray; I argue that emotions create our interests and our purposes. The emotions and consequently the passions in general are our reasons in life.... It is our passions, not our reason (and surely not "nature"), that constitute our world, our relationships with other people and, consequently, our Selves.*
Prof. Solomon is careful to distinguish emotions and passions from feelings as well as physiology; in his view, emotions are no more feelings or sensations than they are patterns of behavior. They are rooted much more deeply than feelings or actions, although, of course, they may be associated with both. Above all, they cannot be simply located in our physical bodies or brains. Rather, they are judgments about something that is important to us. Again, in Prof. Solomon's words (p. ix): "Emotions are the meaning of life. It is because we are moved, because we feel, that life has a meaning." But what if we aren't? Moved, that is. Prof. Solomon casts the problem in terms of the Absurd (p. 49): "the product of that bloodless and desperate 'objective' reasoning [typical of peacetime] that insists on going beyond all passions, beyond subjectivity, and thus beyond life. It demands that something else supply the significance of our lives." Thus, he argues, the failure of philosophy--particularly since the Enlightenment but (in his view) more or less since the beginning--to come up with anything like an answer to the question of the meaning of life. It can't, because life has meaning only insofar as, through our emotions, we judge it to.

But what if, thanks to fasting and discernment, we free ourselves from all of the things that we used to judge necessary to our happiness? What if we find ourselves no longer drawn to worship the Queen of the Fairies, no longer deceived into believing that money, food, or sex could satisfy our need for validation and approval? What if, free of desires, we finally understand what it means to worship God and God alone--but have no sugar in our blood to fuel even that desire for love? What do we do then? Ah, well, yes. What then?

N.B. the asking price.

*The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993), p. 15.


  1. Off topic: I went to Vegas a couple of years ago and I can tell from your pictures where they're from. Enjoy the store with that KJV Bible, as it's the only bookstore you're going to find on the Strip (I'm serious! After a few days of endless glitter I was getting antsy because I couldn't find any reading material more substantial than "Vogue").

  2. What I liked about the bible display was the Protestant KJV being decorated with (of all things) a rosary. Juxtapositions are the order of the day!

  3. ! Methinks the salesperson missed a chunk o' context when setting up that display...


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