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Flavor of the Day

I am under construction. Parts of my life are undergoing heavy demolition, while other areas are receiving a facelift. New additions are being built, original structures assessed for damage, repairs made where needed. It is a time of upheavel, more than anything. A time when my emotions are flying by at a breakneck pace, and I am doing my best to hold on. I've taken to calling my current emotional state the "flavor of the day" (though flavor of the moment might be more accurate). As each emotion passes through and over me, I'm able to notice that each has its own distinctive signature.

Gratitude, like caramel, is at first a solid and wholly sweet thing. In short order it begins to melt, the simple note of sugar giving way to the richness of butter and cream. It's a taste that lingers, coating your soul, so that a little goes such a very long way. A bite in the morning, another before bed. If you keep taking little nibbles as you make your way through what life has to offer, you can find a continued connection with the sweet and the rich.

Love, too, is sweet and rich. But unlike gratitude, the taste of love holds astringency, a bite not easily forgotten. Like dark chocolate, love comes on strong, then settles into notes unique to the beloved: oak, cherry, leather, coffee, florals. One taste leaves you wanting another, and once you've known a particular love, you can always recognize its essence. Dark chocolate is purported to support heart health. Coincidence? Perhaps not. A healthy heart can appreciate the nuance of different loves, but a love lost becomes a craving that simply cannot be satisfied by any other taste, no matter how fine its profile.

Acceptance tastes of the earth, like beets. It's not a morsel of luxury, but a spoonful of groundedness. It's nothing you would expect to long for, until you feel it between your teeth, its nourishment sinking quickly into your bones, settling you down and leaving you sated. Try to take in too much at once and it overwhelms your palate. Avoid it altogether and you may become sick of the other flavors life has to offer. Acceptance is best enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

Grief is bitter, dandilion greens that have grown from a thick, aged root. Terribly tough to chew and swallow, your first instinct is to spit it out. But bitter greens are cleansing, supportive of a body and soul that hold no toxins. To break down this fibrous emotion, you must continue to hold it on your tongue. Make faces if you feel so compelled. Tell your friends how terrible it tastes. They know, they can sympathize. We've all tasted grief. Do what is necessary to allow grief to move through you, cleansing what is no longer needed or available. You needn't welcome this bitter bite, but to receive its healing you'll need to tolerate its acerbic nature.

Anger feels like cayenne, like breathing fire through your tears. Though it burns others who come too close, anger burns within, as well. Its spice can be a welcome addition to a balanced blend, the perfect sharp incandescence where an edge is needed. But it can easily obliterate everything it touches. Anger is best used sparingly.

Sadness is redolent of something slightly spoiled. Not reeking or rotten, sadness is nonetheless off-putting, somehow indigestible. It sits in your center like a lead weight, tasting of emptiness but feeling over-full. Nothing seems to improve its flavor, as if it is resistant to being combined with other notes or included in complete recipes. Sadness prefers to be served on its own.

Curiosity, a carnival jawbreaker. Big and round, with a flavor that defies an exact description, in part because it changes all of the time. Speckled on the outside, but filled with myriad layers of bright colors that cannot immediately be perceived, curiosity asks to be held on your tongue for hours, days, weeks, until its fullness is ready to be revealed. Naturally, you want to take it out of your mouth to see it. How big is it now? What color? Does it taste like it looks? With a chuckle, curiosity reminds you that this only slows the process. You don't have to see what's happening, you just need to trust the process and give it time.

Joy tastes of the finest wine, a flavor so multi-faceted that you must sip it again and again, each time finding a new note on which to focus. Bright and tart, floral and fruity, earthy and bitter, rich and fluid, joy is all things at once, the distillation of every experience. Joy begs to be savored, to be carefully decanted, swirled in the glass, scented before sipping, served in the best and most beautiful glasses. Joy pours over your tongue, singing its song from your tastebuds through your blood before slipping over your skin to wrap you in eloquence. Though a balanced life isn't always serving joy, this taste is never unwelcome at any table.

Loneliness floods the senses like a pungent cheese, veins of blue and green funk running through the creamy whiteness of time unmarred by the presence of another human. A luxury in small doses, the intensity of loneliness easily overwhelms any other notes. Its texture is thick, causing it to linger. It is a presence you smell on your own breath. A taste of loneliness can be piquant. A diet of it will shutter the most hearty of appetites.

Hope is bright, citrus that has encapsulated and condensed thousands of hours of the sun's radiance. Hope pops, filling your mouth and nose and, just as quickly, your heart. Hope makes your mouth water, your dreams unfurl, your soul smile. It's the taste of a treat you've not yet had, but that you know is coming, the lemon bars Mom was making when you left for school. It's a taste worth waiting for, its own sweet reward. For me, at this moment, this brightness is perceptible, but barely. My tastes of hope are like a single curl of lemon rind, nearly lost in something utterly tasteless. But it is enough. Enough to remember the sunshine, the spill of tart excitement, the pucker and the laugh. Enough to remind me that I can still taste hope, no matter how faintly, that a sweet reward is coming.

And over it all, like a layer of peaked meringue that holds everything beneath it safely ensconced, sits grace. Nearly tasteless, grace is more of a sensation than a flavor. Like a cloud touching your tongue, it only whispers to you before it melts away, leaving a clean palate. It is light as air, yet sturdy enough to hold its shape. You cannot destroy grace with searing heat nor freezing cold. It can cover any surface, take any form, add beauty to any dish. It is the perfect compliment to any flavor, any moment.

The lightness and blessing of grace is perhaps the only note that could top anything, and everything, on thist list. It is my dish for the potluck life is serving me in this moment, the one thing I can bring that will rest comfortably atop the flavor of the day (or the moment), no matter what that might be. The others--the gratitude, the acceptance, the grief, the loneliness--seem to be served to me, buffet plates constantly delivered by a stranger who fills my dish at random. But grace I can make to order. Grace I can choose when life's other flavors are thrust upon my plate in upredictable (and sometimes unpleasant) orders and combinations. Grace is perhaps the most subtle and most satisfying flavor of the day. I believe I'll have another helping.

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