Monday, August 1, 2011

Life is Short But I Don't Always Want to Eat Dessert First

This year is going by so quickly. I simply cannot believe that we’re already into August. It seems like the older you get, the faster time flies. I know that’s not exactly an original observation but it’s a true one.

I don’t think I’m ready for it to be August. I feel like I’m just now getting a grip on my summer. It’s been so hot that I haven’t had chance to work outside as much as I’d have liked. Yet, my tomatoes are starting to ripen and my herbs are doing well. I even have a few ears of corn coming in although I suspect the squirrels might be as excited as I am by the fact that some of the husks had been pulled back on my largest piece today.

I do miss the lazy days of summer. That’s the thing with being an adult. Not only does time fly but there seems to be less and less time to just lie down and be lazy outside on the summer grass. I got one of those inspiration emails today that was intended to remind us how to simplify our lives. It started out by saying how things are much simpler when you’re a kid and it’s only as you get older that things get more complicated and most of this is our own fault.

For example, one of the main points was that as a child, if you’re thirsty, you have a drink. As an adult, it’s never that simple. I have to sheepishly say I can attest to that. For me, it becomes an issue of “What am I thirsty for? Hot or cold. If I go for hot, that means coffee since I forgot my tea bags at home. If I drink coffee do I want the strongest kind? Or I could have a Diet Coke although I know that’s not good for me. Tom Colicchio endorses Diet Coke but he gets criticized for it because it’s made of chemicals. Well, maybe I’ll just have some water but then I’ll probably end up drinking half a bottle and leaving the rest to sit there for ages because I never really want water. I just am supposed to drink it….”

You get the idea. It’s true. We do complicate things as we get older but I think that’s just the nature of being older. I like the idea of being a wide-eyed child who just takes things as they come but, truth be told, it’s never that easy. Sure, I could take the fact that I had to fire a perfectly nice man on Friday and just do my job and move on. Yet, how as a human can I do that when the whole time, I’m thinking of how he took out a loan to move for the job and how unfair it is that he’s being fired without being given a chance to try to fix his errors….

My point is that while I do enjoy a certain childish joy in life for the small things, the reality of being an adult is that nothing is every simple…black and white. It’s like that saying: Life is short, eat dessert first.

I get that. I get the philosophy behind that statement: Most people enjoy dessert most so why not just do what you want in life without dealing with formality and structure. Just jump straight to the good stuff.

Yet, in truth, if we could jump straight to dessert, would it be as rewarding? I say no. Then again, I’m not the hugest fan of desserts so my opinion probably doesn’t count for as much as that of someone with a major sweet tooth.

It might be fairer to change the phrase to something that does appeal to me such as “Life is short, just eat the damn cheese.” Which is probably the name of a book that’s actually out there…I mean there’s books about moving cheese and such…why not eating the damn cheese?

I digress. What I mean is that I like cheese almost more than any other food. However, because I try hard to watch what I eat and balance my meals, there’s not always room for cheese. Sometimes, I want nothing better than a salty bite of pecorino romano or the tang of a strong blue cheese but if I’ve already eaten rather badly that day, I usually don’t give in to the craving even if I want to give in to it.

Which leads us back to the “Life is short, just eat the damn cheese.” If I’m going to die anyway, why not enjoy the cheese when I want it?

I do. Sometimes. If I really, really, really want the cheese, I’ll eat it. However, most of the time, I’ll only want it because it’s there and I can have it. If I could eat nothing but cheese all the time, chances are my desire to eat the damn cheese would diminish.

Which is how I feel about the “Life is short, eat dessert first” saying. If you got to eat dessert first and ended with the soup, doesn’t that take away the slightly forbidden pleasure in eating dessert in the first place? For me, part of the delight of dessert is that it’s just a little decadent and it adds a realistic level of ‘naughtiness’ to a meal. I think to some degree, many of us feel a little guilt when we get to the dessert course and already quite full but something sweet might be rather nice. So, we either let ourselves get talked into it or we talk ourselves into it. If you really want dessert, it doesn’t take long.

So, in actuality, while it’s nice to want to eat dessert first or be as wide eyed as a child, life sometimes gets in the way. Things are more complicated as an adult. It would be nice to stay up all night if I wanted to because that’s what I felt like doing but the reality is that I have to work and that would simply be a bad idea. It’s the same as if all I wanted to eat all day was hot dogs. Sure, it might seem like a good idea to just go with the flow but is it, really? I think maybe sometimes knowledge gets in the way but mostly, it’s what complicates things. If we don’t know that eating hot dogs all day leads to high cholesterol, digestive issues and weight gain, does that make it ok to do it? I didn’t know that if I only ate fishfingers and chips as a child, it would be an unhealthy diet. Same with chocolate milkshakes.

No, I think that while it would be nice to keep the innocence of youth, that old wisdom thing kicks in. We are more aware of who we are and what we want. It makes it hard to just keep things simple when you know that while some things are black and white, most of the time there’s a lot of grey between the two opposites.

Still, there are some things that continue to remain simple: Mondays are not my favourite days. That doesn’t seem to change much no matter how quickly time flies. Today was no exception. Tomorrow will be better. That’s another simple-ism that I think remains true.

Sometimes, simple is good…

Happy Tuesday!

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