A MIND MAP FOR INDULGENCE
The word indulgence can be complex - it denotes both the act of indulging - a pursuit of personal pleasure, and the act of giving indulgences - a pardon obtained from the Catholic church for ones sins. Not surprising, then, that we should have gotten the two meanings mixed up somewhere along the way.
Is it not common, when we think of indulgences, to think first of small guilty pleasures? The thought of indulging ourselves brings up a myriad of odd associations: delicious food, sin, bubble baths, repentance, self care, selfish acts, luxurious moments, guilt, and above all... chocolate!
I wish, here, to clear up the messy meanings of something that to me is so simple. In order to do so, we must look back the root meanings of the word...
inˈdəljəns | noun
1. From the Latin root indulgere, meaning = to give free rein to.
2. 17th century, the meaning shifted to include = to treat with excessive kindness
3. Current meaning = fulfillment, satisfaction, gratification, appeasement.
When I look at all these meanings in conjunction, what I see is not some messy act of guilty pleasure, but is instead a word for an act of self nurturing, bordering on mindful consumption, with an end point of fulfillment.
That word, indulgence, ran through my mind once or twice when we visited Bruges.
My Most Vivid Memory from Bruges
sitting on a park bench, the evergreen shellac peeling off the wood, Oliver beside me, both of us watching the world go by as we passed a small chocolate back and forth...
The taste of that one chocolate will stay with me forever. I have cemented it in my memory, along with the moment.
It was green, too, although lighter than the bench. The colour denoted the contents, which were said to be 'cilantro and lime'...
I remember the way that first chocolate burst like an orange nodule, tangy and sharp, almost hurting my sleeping mouth, before the layers of flavours became apparent - bittersweet like a guava, pitted and grainy like blackberries, smooth as milk and soft as butter, the effect was a symphony, one part moving through to the next.
It was a moment that deserved my undivided attention. There is nothing I needed to do, right then, except be there, eating chocolate.
The whole of Bruges was like this - a feast for the senses. By awakening, opening, surrendering and focusing my attentions, I felt I could drink in the colours, imbibe impressions, and engage with the fabulous visions of the world around me, tasting the very essence of it all.
... and a small map of places where one can indulge themselves ...
- Chocolate at The Chocolate Line, Brugge.
- Waffles at Maison Albert.
- Beer from the Westvleteren Monastic Brewery
- Michelangelo's Madonna and Child at the Church of Our Lady.
- The beauty of Bruges on foot, or by water.
- A chorus of ducks at Minnewater Park.
- The slow click and creak of windmills along Kruisvest.