Monday, July 20, 2015

The Best Things in Life

Goldie Hawn with Hamburger  in 1964
Sometimes I legitimately forget that I have blogs I can type in when I have thoughts I'd like to share or little tidbits of what I'd like to think of as wisdom to pass on to anyone that happens to be listening at the time. I still have lots of thoughts. I still share them. I guess I just did the thing and started doing most of my everyday sharing on Facebook like everyone else.

My thoughts tend to come to me spontaneously, usually while I'm busy absorbing someone else's content. Watching a movie, reading, catching up on the news, or looking at images that roll through my Facebook feed. If I have more to say on a topic, It doesn't occur to me to use them as jumping off points for longer posts somewhere else. I'll just add a two-sentence comment of my own and share it on Facebook.

But since today found me reading part of something brilliant penned by an extremely talented friend and immediately thinking "why doesn't he share this someplace other people can actually read it", I thought I might try practicing what I preach for a change. So here I am. Today, anyway.

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This picture of a young Goldie Hawn rolled through my Facebook feed a little earlier today and I liked it, of course. I always seem to like photos of people enjoying good food. Especially vintage photos. Especially vintage photos of beautiful, vivacious people enjoying what I like to think of as "real food". Most get a share from me without a second thought. It's more for personal reasons and less because I'm a connoisseur of great photography though (although I do appreciate that too).

I'm all for people caring about their health, watching their weight, and wanting to maintain their good looks. Those are normal, praise-worthy things to want to do. However, I legitimately don't understand the need so many people these days have to fill their lives with self-imposed limits if they aren't actually necessary on some practical level. This is especially the case when it comes to their food. Everyone seems to be vegetarian, or vegan, or gluten-free, or paleo, or whatever the fuck other silly label seems to be popular to wear these days. I'm sorry, but those lifestyles all look about as satisfying as an afternoon spent watching paint dry.

I'm hardly saying that I think we should all just be throwing caution to wind and not giving any kind of a fuck whether we're fat or unhealthy. I just don't see where swaying to the opposite extreme is any better or any healthier. I know and have known so many people that are saying "no" to experiences and relationships that could be incredible because they think there's more pride to be taken in having the willpower to turn their noses up at foods, activities, or pastimes considered "fun" or -- God forbid -- "indulgent". 

Everyone wants to be "special" these days. Everyone wants to single themselves out in an attempt to elevate their image above those of their peers, often by pointing to other people that are just happy doing their thing, sniffing derisively, and going "yeah I don't do that" as if refusing to appreciate life is something to be proud of. Do what? Stick a firework to the top of your head and light it? Well, good. I should hope not. Eat cheeseburgers and pizza on occasion? Have a healthy sex life? Appreciate Harry Potter? Laugh at off-color dick jokes? Yeah, not so much. I'm even inclined to say you're missing out. Why not pull the stick out of your ass and try something just because you've never done it before and it seems like a good time? You would have when you were a kid. What's stopping you as an adult?

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A few summers ago, I choked on a chunk of grilled slider while Seth and I were outside grilling. I have a bad habit of eating my food pretty quickly and not really chewing it as well as I should. I guess that was the day I finally found out why you're not supposed to do that. Thankfully Seth knew the Heimlich and happened to be there to lend a hand at the time, but for the seconds that elapsed between me realizing I was choking and... well... realizing I wasn't choking anymore, I really thought I was going to die.

You know what my thoughts were? The first thought was definitely: "So this is how I go out. Choking to death on a hamburger." The second thought was actually a thought of relief that at least I was choking to death eating something that was damned tasty on a day spent enjoying life in the company of someone I love. What if I'd spent the prior 20 years of my life crash dieting and surviving on lettuce because I thought I had to in order to be beautiful and happy? What if I'd actually listened to my mother when she told me I should put off having a serious relationship until I'd "made it" in regards to some bullshit career I didn't want? That would have really sucked because I would have died knowing I'd missed out. 

All things considered, if that day had turned out to have been my last day on earth, it wouldn't have been the worst possible scenario. It would have been the last day of a life largely spent being true to myself and sharing things that made me happy with people I genuinely like. A life in which I've learned to flip the bird as hard as I can in the general direction of anyone telling me that's not an OK way to live. My life doesn't seem like much from the outside looking in, I'm sure, but it's been a life that I feel pretty good about on my better days. I've done some cool things and thunk some cool thoughts. I've created things and told stories. I've influenced other people for the better (I hope). I've been in love. I've had the human experience. 

See, I'm a really simple person. I've always been a simple person. I don't need a 20-room mansion, a sports car, expensive vacations, and multiple millions of dollars to be happy. What I do need is someone to love and laugh with. I need ways to express myself and to learn (thanks, Internet). I need to feel comfortable in my own imperfect skin. I need delicious meals to share in good company. In the end, they're the things I know I'd regret not having in my life if they weren't there.