When I was in college I worked in a big chain box store 20 hours a week on top of my regular school schedule and part –time job in the college radio station. One Saturday afternoon at Yee Olde Boxe Store we were demonstrating cookware and I got to set up a table and show off the shiny new fondue pots. I had my system going with the chocolate bubbling at the right temperature and the shortbread cut in easy-to-spear cubes. People would walk by and I would give them my spiel about the pots and offer them a sample. While it was a mostly boring day for me, it was, however, an interesting study in social psychology.
The men-folk walked up to my table with enthusiasm and gobbled up the samples while nodding their heads in approval. The kids would do the same and try to sneak another piece when I wasn’t looking. The women, on the other hand, walked up to me with curiosity and then turned away talking about all the calories in shortbread. I would try to convince them that it was only ONE piece and I promised it was cellulite free. Quite frequently they would just laugh and walk away but a few of them came back later making excuses about being able to afford just one piece. This went on for most of the afternoon and when I closed up shop I still had lots of chocolate and shortbread left. I looked at my leftovers and thought about all the excuses and sideways glances and excuses as I dipped shortbread and offered up samples. Why do we make excuses and deny ourselves simple pleasures?
Now, before you accuse me of calling the kettle black, I will say that I don’t always eat the samples offered by the kind ladies in the grocery store. Most of the time the sample is something I can’t eat (like beef) or it has enough sodium to suck out all of the nutrients and water in my body. Like most people, however, I am not a perfect eater. I occasionally overindulge when I’m really hungry and if I pass by the cupcake bakery, I’m going to stop. I am not, however, going to eat a dozen cupcakes and then wash it down with a milkshake. I prefer to live by the words of Julia Child who said, “Everything in moderation… including moderation.”
This scenario plays out in my life in many other ways: I don’t want to work on a story because it’s not perfect or the first draft might be really, really bad. I don’t want to wear that shirt that makes me feel sexy because it might make me look fat. Why is it that we still entertain the medieval notion of pleasure being sinful? Why do we feel the need to have to earn our pleasure? Why do I have to run five miles before eating a cookie?
This week on A Closer Look Radio: Life and Other Matters Pam and the girls discuss the 7-Deadly Sins and their interpretations throughout different cultures and religions. Is being proud of yourself a bad thing? Is it considered gluttonous if you took a piece of shortbread from me? Can greed be good? Find out more by tuning in on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time or subscribing to the podcast via AchieveRadio.
As you go about your week I give you permission to hit the snooze button one more time or eat a small cupcake if it looks good. Just don’t over do it.