With the appointment of Mr. Trump as the POTUS on Wednesday and now the death of the inimitable Leonard Cohen on Friday, it’s turning into a dark, dark week. There’s now a rational justification to pile on the grief bacon. And I have indeed been partaking in binge eating candy and chocolate in an attempt to numb and distract myself from the tragedy and disappointment.
One of my favourite Leonard Cohen lyrics, ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in,’ is a reminder to look for hope among the despair, to find the light no matter how dark these days feel. Now that the novelty of stuffing my face with sugar has worn off, I’ve opted for a healthier form of self-care: I’m focusing on beauty, nature, peace, gratitude and connection. Here are a few shots from the past few weeks that have given me pleasure, solace and distraction, in both taking them and in thinking about what they represent. May the light find its way in.
PIG IS BEAUTIFUL
What a coincidence – just a few days after discovering and writing about the German term for ‘grief bacon’ (Kummerspeck), I was reacquainted with a German friend who has just returned to Korea. Sitting in a beautiful zen garden next to one of the old palaces downtown, I asked her about this term. She laughed and proceeded to tell me that it refers to the handful of fat that can be found on one’s stomach and hips after they indulge in endless comfort eating after a traumatic event, such as a death or breakup. It’s something our sausage-loving German friends good-naturedly tease each other about, or can be a topic of conversation if you haven’t seen someone for a long-time. If you see them with a spare tire, as we’d say in English, you might want to ask them why they have grief bacon, what happened to cause this downhill slide into frumpydom? It can signal that a friend is depressed or sad and can be cause for concern. In my case, I have what I now refer to as ‘lazy bacon’ or ‘can’t be assed bacon.’ My German friend, who has only known me a short time, did not comment on this.
In other news, I had another split second of language-related glee when I discovered that the Italian words influenza and radice mean influence and root respectively. Which got me thinking (and googling). Could the English word of Influenza, referring to the dreaded ‘flu have come from Italian? And could radish, that interesting and bright coloured vegetable have been named from the Italian?
Concerning the former, this is what omniscient Google told me: “In Italian, influenza took a slightly different course to our influence, coming to refer metaphorically to the outbreak of a disease, thought to caused by the influence of the stars. For example, influenza di febbre scarlattina meant “an outbreak of scarlet fever” and such phrases are known from the early sixteenth century onwards. In 1743 what was called in Italian an influenza di catarro, an “outbreak of the catarrhal fever” became an epidemic which spread across Europe. As is so common with foreign phrases, only the first word was taken to be significant, and the disease immediately came to be known in English as the influenza. From about the beginning of the Victorian period it started to be abbreviated to our modern flu, though often at first spelt flue.”
Interesting, right? Concerning the humble radish, I round out that radice can also mean radish in Italian, although there are other, more accurate, words for it. Apparently, radish comes from the Latin term radix, which means roots. So there you go. Don’t say I never teach you anything.