I can’t get enough. Images of those round, fleshy, rosy orbs of sweetness hover at the edge of my mind and nibble away at my crave center, refusing to leave me in peace. Despite all of first lady Eve’s considerable charms I would bet Adam was never tempted in the way that I am on a daily basis to give in to the temptation to fondle one again and again, even if for just a few stolen moments, and to drink in the scent and sigh from the pleasure of the sweetness that emanates from within. Big ones, small ones, perfectly round or more likely wonderfully and originally imperfect – I love them alllllll. Twice a day I allow myself to indulge in partaking of my obsession. Yes, I’m talking about apples my friends. “What gives?” you might ask yourself. They are just apples. A popular fruit – universally tasty even to the notoriously fussy palates of one billion four year olds. Why the special status? Why all the fuss? It’s really quite simple. I too took them for granted, until one day, many years ago, I couldn’t have them anymore. When I was about 14 I suddenly developed what was termed by my allergist “oral intolerances” to many fruits, vegetables and nuts and my beloved apples were amongst the forbidden fruits. Until this year, I couldn’t eat any of those things – and now suddenly, at the age of (ahem) 45, I am cured. I had continued to test things out each year to see if perhaps things had changed and I was always disappointed – until this year. It seems that I have been rewarded for my patience – that and my beginning to drink fresh green juices some months ago. I am attributing all good things to that whether it is true or not because I want everyone else to join me – that, and the fact that I can find no other reasonable explanation.
My recent love affair with apples (yes, I’m three months in and my ardor hasn’t cooled yet) has made me think about the benefits of not always getting what you want exactly when you want it. I think most of us probably go through our lives shaking our internal fists at all of those things that block us from getting what we want, but none of us ever really sit down and think about what life would really be like if we got everything that we wanted exactly when we wanted it. Would it really be better – or is the striving for what we want, the journey, also of value – perhaps even of greater value than the having at times? I never thought about apples, or craved them, until I couldn’t have them. There is definitely something to be said for the utter sweetness of delayed gratification, and also perhaps for the heartbreak of non-gratification of our wants and desires.
I like to imagine myself as an old world Queen sometimes (o.k. – confession, I often imagine this, and I have the most glorious crown!) and I wonder what I would do with my power. What if I had the power to smite all those that displeased me and reward all those that curried favor? Would it really be the best thing for me to be surrounded only by those that pleased me at all times? What would I learn from that kind of life? Wouldn’t I just get bored after awhile and behaving oddly just to shake things up a bit? Or perhaps retreat into my own little world away from reality. Of course I could make everyone drink green juice, and that would be a good thing, until they rose up against me of course, waving their donuts in the air menacingly. Oh no, not the donuts!
Think about all of the books that you have read and films that you have seen. Would any of them interest you if the characters just sat around getting everything that they wanted when they wanted it? You want love – here it is! You want to achieve world peace – not a problem. You want to consume a delicious meal – here is one ready made for you. A child – poof, here are two. A house in the Hamptons – why not have a big one while we are at it. A successful career – voila. You want to be a great writer – you are now a great writer. No one would get to page fifty of a book like that – unless there was also some conflict. Conflict – the blocking of what we want – is what makes stories interesting and our lives are the greatest stories we will ever tell in our time here on earth. Of course no one would want to read a book or see a movie about characters that never get anything that they want either – so that is where the appreciation of delayed gratification comes in – and it is the delay that makes finally getting what we want so delectable.
Think about the path your life has taken, and all the turns you have had to take because something you wanted couldn’t be for some reason or another. When I do so I realize that there truly always has been another door that opened when one closed. So today let us raise a glass (or a fruit of your choice) and celebrate all the irritating little quirks that our bodies come up with (trust me, these will increase with age), all of the failures that we have experienced, all of the doors that have closed, and all of the times that we didn’t get what we wanted when we wanted it – and know that somehow other moments of our lives have been made so much the sweeter because of them.