Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_styles() expected to be a reference, value given in /homepages/16/d202020116/htdocs/worldwide/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 601

Warning: Parameter 1 to wp_default_scripts() expected to be a reference, value given in /homepages/16/d202020116/htdocs/worldwide/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 601
Worldwide Ace » A Spoonful of Sugar

Worldwide Ace

Because a true Ace is needed everywhere…

Entries Comments


A Spoonful of Sugar

10 November, 2009 (14:04) | Philosophy

spoonful of sugar
A spoonful of sugar.
Taken from the BBC’s Good Foods Glossary.

The best advice I ever received came from a fictional umbrella-toting nanny.

“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” she sang.

The irony is that taking this piece of advice at face value, it’s often wrong. Most liquid medicines are already sweetened these days, so extra sugar makes it sickly sweet. If you’re talking Castor oil as a punishment or Ipecac to induce vomiting, adding sweetener kind of defeats the purpose, though you’ll certainly still vomit. A spoonful of sugar makes it that much harder to swallow a pill, and putting it in your IV is just silly. A spoonful of sugar is a bad idea when the treatment is topical, and while the fetish lover you’re sleeping with may like it in your enema, you probably won’t.

I’m going to die.

To a certain extent I already knew that. It’s not a new prognosis, but rather the ultimate endgame to my existence. I don’t know when it’ll happen or how; at least not right now. Yet it is an absolute.

So often I hear about people running for religion when they know they’re going to die. Their proverbial spoonful of sugar is the thought that there’s something more, that their friends and loved ones await them. Heaven, reincarnation, and every variation on the immortal soul are all likely pipe dreams.

Really, though, it’s just a fancy way of saying they seek hope.

Hope is all I need to swallow medicine. Just believing that this putrid concoction foisted on my medicine cabinet is somehow going to make me well again is enough. It’s the self-perpetuating placebo effect, the power of positive thought. It’s an unsubstantiated trust in my doctor and his knowledge of biology that might be the root of my healing.

Believing that I’ve somehow made a positive difference in the world during my life, no matter how minor is enough to sate my fear of death.

A spoonful of sugar can only do so much. Eventually, if one doesn’t get better, there will be doubt in the medicine.

It’s been just over a year since Barack Obama was elected and a little more ten months and two weeks since he took office. During the election, he was the spoonful of sugar that got us through the collapse of the economy and the slow downward spiral of the job market. Hell, he was the image of hope for African Americans, for liberals, and for people the world round.

His administration is the medicine designed to make America better.

Currently there’s a lot of backlash from both sides. The liberal naysayers are claiming he’s an ineffectual placebo. The conservatives think he’s a virus in his own right. And given the results so far, it’s not easy to argue against either side, but he’s still one of the few glimmers of hope in rather difficult times.

I find myself trying to slip a spoonful of sugar into some of the strangest situations: Job interviews, applications, tests, and dating.

There’s a relational catch 22 for guys: you have to be confident and in control to succeed, but to gain confidence you need to succeed. I wish I could say I’ve had success, but my confidence is false front. It’s a spoonful of sugar masking my failings.

A few weeks ago, I sprained my ankle. I have this nagging fear it might be more than a sprain. It still hasn’t regained full strength and when I rotate it, it cracks vehemently. It gets sore at the oddest moments and I can’t sit in certain positions for more than a short period.

I bought an ankle brace so I could start running again, and while I’m certainly able, I sometimes wonder if the brace actually does anything or if it’s just a glorified spoonful of sugar that gives me the confidence to run on a bad ankle. Either way, I’m getting my desired result.

There’s a spoonful of sugar for every occasion, from cancer—”you can lead a full life with treatment”—to that time when your girlfriend asks if that dress makes her look fat—”no, it actually makes your ass look great”. Health foods may taste terrible, but the knowledge that they’re good for you is the spoonful of sugar. Your favorite team is tanking the season? Getting a high draft pick is the spoonful of sugar.

In some ways, I worry we’re addicted to sweetening every moment, letting the bad, yet important things slide by without acknowledgment. You simply can’t add a spoonful of sugar to the worst of the worst. Ethnic cleansing in Rwanda ruining your mood? At least Don Cheadle made an awesome movie.

A spoonful of sugar does make so many things more bearable. Today, I’m procrastinating what I should really be doing, but knowing I’m going to complete an entry here is my spoonful of sugar.

Besides, nobody dislikes a spoonful of sugar. Except maybe your dentist, the sadistic bastard.

«

  »

  • TheOldBear

    Quoting from the author and acheologist Charles Pellegino:

    More than the invention of wheels or agriculture, perhaps even more than the control of fire, the knowledge of defeat has pointed the way for human civilization. Somewhere in the remote past, humans had learned to anticipate the future in reasonable detail, and to see limitations and potential failures in every direction. … There is no telling precisely when an individual first grasped the notion that if all other creatures eventually died, and if the oldest, grayest people he knew always died within a few dozen lunar cycles, and if there existed no one older than the old grays, then death might not be something that happened only to everyone else. Ahead of him he began to see the end of all things, an unavoidable defeat, beyond which lay a great unknown.

    If one could approximate how many spring seasons he had seen and compare those with the approximate age of the tribal elders, he cold also estimate how may spring seasons remained before his own death became inevitable. The discovery of time could not have followed far behind the discovery of death. For all we know, it might have preceded the discovery of fire.

    The Babylonians invented birth certificates and could henceforth assign numbers to the ages of their oldest citizens. Under very favorable conditions if disease, famine, or violence did not strike first, one might reach the age of seventy years. And thus do the first birth certificates echo down to us: “The days of our years are three score and ten.”

    If indeed man once dwelled in ignorance of both time and death, then for all our forefathers knew, they truly were eternal, in the same sense animals, if they think of it at all, are unaware that they are not everlasting. In biological terms, the explosive growth of the human brain during the past million years guaranteed that sooner or later human minds would be capable of gaining knowledge; and with knowledge, death entered the world.

    And Man, who knows death, is obsessed with time.

  • AceHarmon

    That's a lovely piece of writing. My only complaint relates to the fact I don't believe in time. Long before Obama, I believed in change. Time is merely an ineffectual ruler applied to measure change, which may explain why man's obsession with time produces every conceivable effect, both driving creation and inspiring ennui.

    I assume your point in posting this was to provide fear as the counterbalance to hope. It's certainly an excellent choice. I ran across a wonderful article on the placebo effect here by Anne Harrington and the following passage was stunning to me:

    Cohen was interested in death that appeared to be hastened by extreme hopelessness and isolation—for example, displaced refugees in a new culture. Cohen also explored clinical reports on the apparent physiological effects of familial rejection and social stigma associated with AIDS. Cohen offers the example of a mother who:

    learned on the same day that her son was gay and had AIDS. She reacted to this with hostility and openly maintained a prayer vigil outside the intensive care unit, praying that her son would die because of the shame he had caused her. The patient could hear his mother praying. One hour later the patient died, much to the surprise of his physician, since he did not appear to be terminal.

  • AceHarmon

    That's a lovely piece of writing. My only complaint relates to the fact I don't believe in time. Long before Obama, I believed in change. Time is merely an ineffectual ruler applied to measure change, which may explain why man's obsession with time produces every conceivable effect, both driving creation and inspiring ennui.

    I assume your point in posting this was to provide fear as the counterbalance to hope. It's certainly an excellent choice. I ran across a wonderful article on the placebo effect here by Anne Harrington and the following passage was stunning to me:

    Cohen was interested in death that appeared to be hastened by extreme hopelessness and isolation—for example, displaced refugees in a new culture. Cohen also explored clinical reports on the apparent physiological effects of familial rejection and social stigma associated with AIDS. Cohen offers the example of a mother who:

    learned on the same day that her son was gay and had AIDS. She reacted to this with hostility and openly maintained a prayer vigil outside the intensive care unit, praying that her son would die because of the shame he had caused her. The patient could hear his mother praying. One hour later the patient died, much to the surprise of his physician, since he did not appear to be terminal.