\'Gumdrops and Arsenic\' by Kat Johnston

Random Asian candy is a delight if you have an experimental streak – you are as likely to end up with something that tastes absolutely horrendous as you are to get something simply exquisite. This little snippet is bought to you by the bag of random Asian candy that is currently sitting beside me that I have -no- guilt consuming whatsoever.

But anyhow onto my musings for the evening…

What is it that compels us to do things that are not good for us? To gorge ourselves at a buffet because ‘you paid for it’ or overindulge at an open bar because ‘somebody else is paying for it’? What is it that makes us reach for that slice of cake over that shiny green apple when the offer is made?

Short term satisfaction is a funny thing – the immediate pay-off often seems worth it, but in so many cases even that doesn’t even turn out as nicely as we imagine. Think of the serial dieter that feels a constant guilt as they bite into that chocolate bar they had hidden in the bottom of their drawer after promising that the last one was ‘the very last one’… or perhaps the potential adultress who surrenders to lust at the expense of a loved one. Even though it seems good at the time, the guilt or ‘wrongness’ of the situation is sometimes enough to have dulled the pleasure that the moment may have potentially brought had it been done under different circumstances. Not to mention any feelings we have after the fact, regretting these decisions we make. We know they are wrong… so why do we do it?

We voluntarily do things to hurt ourselves every day. Not just the big things, but the little things too. Skipping breakfast, saying yes to someone even though we really want to say no, sitting in front of the tv rather than going for a walk… so many little things that we know we should be doing, but don’t, or that we shouldn’t be doing, but do anyway. What is that perfect balance between immediate pay-off and long-term benefit? At what point does a drug addict go ‘you know… it just isn’t worth it any more’?

Believe it or not, I am enjoying my random bag of candy, free to pick and choose to be thrilled or disappointed with each little package of sugar-filled treat – even the ones that taste horrible make me feel all the much better for having at least tried something new. It inspired me to do my drawing, but it is not the reason for the musing – the picture came first, the musing started during, and the culmination of those thoughts only after.

Rasputin was fed cake which was thought to have been laced with arsenic but survived to tell the tale of its eating. Some short-term pay-offs just aren’t worth the risk… even for the most appetizing, sweetest, most delicious-looking cake in all the world. Perhaps my mother was right… you shouldn’t take candy from a stranger. Or for that matter, cake from someone who has a private store of arsenic and holds a grudge.