Sunday morning after rain and I have been out in the cool soaking wet garden picking fresh tarragon for a roasted chicken with lemon and tarragon.
Detachment and its opposite, that sticky sucked-under and hooked feeling we get when we can’t step back.. From one of my favourite food writers at Poor Man’s Feast, a description of the wrong kind of attachment:
I’ve been reading a lot lately about something called shenpa, which translates more or less to “attachment.” Pema Chodron explains it more accurately as “getting hooked.” It’s a sticky feeling, she says; for me, it’s that old familiar grind that I get in the pit of my stomach that churns and growls when someone says something mean or outrageous to me, even if I know deep down that it’s their mishegas that’s causing them to say it, as opposed to my own (and believe me, I have plenty). I want to fix them, or help them, or just make things right, dammit, and I lay awake nights, worrying, propelled by a kind of psychic adrenalin rush. Shenpa is an unspecific compulsion, and therefore can be relatable to anything; it’s like not being able to scratch an itch, or not being able to refuse a drink if you’re an alcoholic, or not being able to keep yourself from getting engaged and sucked-in. You take the bait, whatever that bait is, and you’re off and running. Shenpa is a taxing, raging, unforgiving beast: it’s the devil on your shoulder. It’s like running a marathon while chained to a boulder. Forget about your day job — if you’re stuck in a shenpa-driven cyclone, there aren’t enough hours; there isn’t enough energy coursing through your veins. Best to step off the track, to pause, to breathe.
Sunday morning at the beginning of love month, the second month of the year ( remind me about those New Year’s Resolutions again?), and in a week or two it will be Lent ( already?) and then the season will be turning over, the year steaming ahead, plans and projects all going awry because reality interferes with our human scheming. Leaves are falling from the camphor trees lining the roads, the shadows are longer in the early evening, the veld bleached almost white as bone. Everything going to seed, the heat burning up small ponds and streams, the red earth cracking, the landscape waterless and harsh. This is how it must be, this is the norm in Africa. But all the church congregations are praying for rain before drought sets in and farmers talk about scientists who want to chemically seed clouds over the Karoo semi-desert to bring rain. Nobody wants to leave well enough alone — and here we go, another bright-eyed and bushy researcher has decided synthetic alcohol is the answer to hangovers and too much drinking. Sometimes I despair.
Nutt, formerly the government’s senior drugs adviser, has identified a substance that is alcohol-free but acts as a substitute. It has a chemical structure similar to benzodiazepine, a class of psychoactive drugs that treat anxiety and insomnia. The as-yet-unnamed drug can produce alcohol’s desirable effects such as sociability and relaxation, but without negative effects such as nausea.
“We can get rid of most of the toxicity. We’ll have a compound maybe 100 times safer than alcohol,” claims Nutt. This means less damage to the heart and liver, but it also lets you wake up fresh. “Because it targets a specific receptor in the brain, we can reverse the effects if people want to drive home,” adds Nutt. The antagonist could come in the form of a pill, or a dissolvable film that is placed under the tongue.
Well, if we could change human nature and the core of addictive behaviour, not to mention our tendency towards obsession, misplaced desire, the lust for excess, the madness of human thirst for escapism, then synthetic alcohol might be just the thing. But there is madness in the synapses, madness in the blood stream and on we go, dreaming of love and recovery and somehow going on through each long hot sun-dazzled day without that synthetic jump of joy or tumble into relaxation, without the need to go somewhere else and risk oblivion.
Country Love Song