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What Is A Treat?

It’s the middle of my working week – which starts Sunday evening and finishes Thursday afternoon – and I am pondering this query: what is a treat?

See, I like a treat. I enjoy treats a lot. I like a bit of chocolate, a frothy cappuccino, a drink. Sometimes I discover I don’t enjoy the taste of some of those things (down with milk chocolate!) as much as I enjoy the very idea of a treat.

To discuss treats, I have to mention what I eat; have to mention specific dietary requirements, so if you don’t like reading about any food restriction, maybe stop at this bit.

At present, I don’t have dairy (except a bit of butter here and there), I have cut down sugar, I don’t have a giant amount of carb (that one is a bit looser, sometimes can’t avoid them). So in general, a lot of my favourite treats are basically… off. No hot chocolate; no pizza; no giant cheesy and/or creamy pasta. Nuh-uh. But I’ve been working extra this week! Yesterday alone I worked 11 hours, and that’s excluding commute. And I. Want. A. Treat.

I just don’t want the work of it.

See, in my header picture you see some low sugar treats I picked up at Sainsbury’s. They hold my interest as well as wet paper and are just about as appetizing. I couldn’t find real corn, so I can’t make popcorn myself and enjoy it hot with a bit of paprika or dill; green plantain chips turn out to be uninteresting. Do I just snack on a square of dark chocolate and call it a day? Do I go for a mid-week drink of low-sugar vodka and risk my sleep being disturbed? What?

It feels like I have to reframe to myself what a treat actually IS. It turns out that while I enjoy having nice food – been a bit obsessed with sushi and salmon in particular, recently! – the thing that feels like a treat is spending time on myself. And I much prefer spending money to spending time.

It makes sense, I think. I know that it’s “good” and more importantly (?) “productive”* to meditate, to decompress, to do something restful. But I struggle to do that, to take the time just for myself. I feel the scarcity of my time, even though I find enough of it to watch YouTube videos – but I can’t get it together enough to play the piano ten minutes a day. And I think that we are programmed to stuff a Starbucks muffin into our mouths and keep running, keep going, keep producing and “being productive” – even though it won’t offer the satisfaction we crave. That’s why I bought a selection of savoury snacks I don’t like, hoping that they will be enough for me to feel “cared for”, and that’s why I keep looking at my piano with a lingering sense of guilt – and keep looking at my computer rather mindlessly.

The thing that would be an actual treat would involve more time and space to myself, as well as distressingly little food. Once the basic need for nourishment is covered, we start eating emotions, and I am no different in this than most.

And because I have cultivated this habit of blogging, this particular treat – putting my thoughts into words and sharing them with the Internet – is accessible to me, from my sofa on which I’m watching those YouTube videos and snacking on horrible snacks (seriously, those pea & bean sticks are ghastly). So I guess that at present, writing is a treat. I’m glad I managed at least one of non-edible variety. Another thing to work on…

*I cannot emphasize enough how ironic I’m being here. Because it is ironic that I can motivate myself to do things to be “more productive” (i.e. more in alignment with capitalist values), but struggle to motivate myself to do things just because they’re helpful and make me more in alignment with… myself. Um.

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