Don't Wait

Weekend Meditation

In my pantry right now, there among the cans of tomato paste and chicken noodle soup, is a box of rich, decadent sipping chocolate, a bag of dried porcini, and a little tin of handmade candied violets. In my closet, a pair of fancy velvet heels and a gorgeous cashmere sweater mingle with the cotton shirts and clogs. Tucked away in a drawer, a small vial of a favorite, very expensive perfume waits for the special day that I will dab it on my wrists. Besides being wonderful and special, all these things have one other thing in common: I never use them. And lately I've been thinking that this has got to change.

I have this habit of saving (hoarding perhaps?) certain things, special things, delicious things, things that normally don't appear in my everyday life. Why? Well, on the surface it seems logical. Because I may never have the chance to see them or taste them again, I become very careful with them and dole out their specialness is small, careful doses. These resources are limited, after all, so they must be saved for a special day. Right? Well, maybe not.

Lately I've been questioning this thinking. Is there something more going on here, some basic assumptions I am making about my life, about the world I live in? Is it really true that wonderful things are rare and limited and should be guarded? Is it really true that some days are more special than others? And the answer, while a bit more complicated than this, basically boils down to "no."

If I look really closely, I see this attitude originates in a sense of scarcity, a fundamental feeling that there's not enough. And not only that. This sense of scarcity is a habit, a basic, foundational attitude that permeates all aspects of my life. I don't lead with it but if I'm quiet and ask myself the right questions, I can see it there, lurking and influencing many of my thoughts and decisions.

And it persists even in the face of good evidence that actually I live in a time of enormous abundance. Everywhere I look, there is much to be grateful for, much to be appreciated. From the tumbled, tangled profusion of my pantry shelves to the way the sun is shifting into its Spring position and spilling light through my kitchen window. The smile from a stranger passing on the sidewalk, the enormous selection of teas in my grocery store aisles, the presence of my friends and family, their wisdom and caring. This is the good life! This is cause for celebration!

Instead of saving the good stuff for later, what about throwing a party everyday? What about splashing on that special perfume until the vial is empty and snuggling into that cashmere sweater before sitting down at my computer to work? And what about those delicious things in the pantry? What if I don't taste some sipping chocolate now and I get run over by a bus this afternoon? I will never, ever have had the chance to taste it, to enjoy its velvety texture and dark, nuanced bitterness. Is that how I want to live this life?

Of course there are special things to mark special occasions. If we eat caviar everyday, then it will eventually become just another boring spoonful of salty fishy eggs. But at the same time, hoarding away the good stuff for a day that is more special than this day, right here and now, is also a mistake. In my life at least, there needs to be a balance, there needs to be more revelry. A little more recklessness.

So I've vowed to loosen it up a little. Everyday, in small ways, I will stop what I'm doing and make a celebration. Maybe it will be pausing for a cup of hot sipping chocolate, or to splash on some perfume. Maybe I will add those porcinis to my everyday lunch soup, or finally open that very nice bottle of wine before it turns to vinegar and invite a few friends over on a Wednesday night.

Whatever the circumstance, my new phrase is Don't Wait. Don't wait for a day or a situation to be better, more special, more worthy of celebration, than this day, this moment. Right here, right now. Don't wait. Celebrate!

Related: Weekend Meditation: Bitter

(Image: Dana Velden)

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.