Yesterday was my cheat day....what is a cheat day? Well for me, normally I eat meat, eggs, and green vegetables every day. But every 7 to 10 days, I have a day where anything goes. As I was contemplating my cheat day options, I was stuck on what I was going to have for lunch. When you can eat any food you want, you definitely want to pick something you have been craving. In my community, there is a newer restaurant that is quite popular and requires a 30-45 minute wait. Never excited about waiting in lines, I decided to get their burger and sweet potato fries to go. So 15 minutes and 16 dollars later, I was in my car, settling in for what I thought would be the pinnacle cheat day experience. This burger was really something to behold! It was both a thing of artistic beauty and a culinary masterpiece. With onions caramelized in a wine reduction sauce, and bold blue cheese to compliment the hickory smoked, thick cut bacon. Epic, awesome, and mouthwatering just to behold. My first bite was a little lack luster, thinking I needed to cleanse the platte, I tried a second bite, and a third. My hope was that each subsequent bite would be the culmination of my anticipation. Sadly, it was not. The flavors each were powerful and instead of one flavor shining above the rest, each competed for my attention, and was lost in the minutiae. I found myself regretting my choice, realizing that I was not getting 16 dollar worth of enjoyment and flavor from the experience. In that moment I found myself wishing I had gone with my ever reliable Wendy's, for their lettuce wrapped double. It's always tasty, always leaves me feeling full and just right, never sick. In that moment I had a epiphany that perhaps the road to cheat day happiness was not to be found in complicated tastes and expensive culinary experiences, but rather in the simple, and less complicated. Later, I had this message reinforced as I went to Culver's because their custard is one of my cheat day have to's. Normally I get plain chocolate, because how can you improve upon perfection? When the flavor of the day was chocolate with caramel and sea salted almond slivers, it sounded so good, and in an effort to be adventurous and try something new, I opted in. Each of the flavors failed to compliment the other, each competed like my earlier experience with the burger. The best spoonful of the whole batch, was the one that lacked the caramel and nuts, just the plain chocolate. I realize this may mean that I lack a sophisticated pallet, perhaps if I had more culinary training, I could appreciate the subtle or not so subtle nuances of each flavor. However, for me, I think there is a message here about myself or what makes me happy. Simplicity. With these food examples, I know this to be true. Have you found something that tastes as good, as a slice of well crafted, warm homemade bread smothered in butter? My favorite tastes are not complex but are the result of a few ingredients being well blended, so as not to compete, but to create a single awe inspiring taste. My wife's cookies being a prime example.
I have considered my food experience from yesterday, and have wondered what lessons can I learn from this realization. When I consider the happy times, simplicity always seems to be a common element. Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Peru to do some humanitarian work. My life there was uncomplicated. My job was to help further the work and support those who were doing it, I was very happy. When I am backpacking or hiking, my focus is on the trail ahead, the movement, and the environment. It is simple and it makes me very happy. If I reflect back at times when I have been less than content, there has always been a recollection of complexity and stress in those memories. There were conflicts between my values, my commitments, and the time I had to complete them. Like the 16 dollar burger, perhaps the price I paid during these parts of my life, the price I paid for what I thought I wanted, was not worth what I received in exchange. We all have a choice. I have a choice. A choice to decide if the 16 dollar burger is going to make me happy. Definitely I can try it, and if the expenditure to pleasure ratio is worth it, I'm all in. If something improves, or enhances my life, absolutely. However, if after my experience, I'm happier with the simple 5 dollar option, it becomes one more thing I know about myself. My pathway to burger happiness discovered, and could it also be a small step, an insight into other aspects of my life? I'll keep you posted.