Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do Not Place Your Trust Blindly in the Chocolate Index

Finally, it's that time of year.
The one weekend in which I have NOTHING to do. No shopping, no decorating, no cleaning, no laundry.
Okay, there may be some laundry.
The weekend between Christmas and New Years. The one weekend every year when I can kick back, eat chocolate Santas while watching the Complete DVD box set of whatever 1980's hit television show I didn't watch during it's original prime time run but still somehow managed to incorporate all the tag lines into my everyday conversation. (This year it is Twin Peaks. Which, from the two episodes I have watched so far may be more fairly described as not so much of a 'hit' as a 'constant state of schizophrenia'. Which is probably why I can completely relate.)
No concerns about working out or eating right or doing taxes – the New Year is still days away.
It is also the time of year when everyone from the lady at the grocery store to the dude in the bow-tie who hosts CBS Sunday Morning looks back over the previous year.
I catch myself reminiscing as well. It is probably all that hot chocolate, free time and enormous 1980's eye-wear. (Have I ever mentioned that during most of the 1980's I dressed exactly like Maggie O'connell from Northern Exposure? And a little like the Log Lady from Twin Peaks.) Okay. Enough with the reminiscing.

This is the weekend to play with the new Christmas goodies – like my Mini-Bonsai tree: 
This is really more of an exercise in faith rather than tiny tree gardening.
I know. Not much of a tree yet. But after 7 days of 'cold stratifying' they are suppose to burst forth in a zen display of tiny, well manicured branches.

And my new bird feeder:
Behold the rare MidWestern Squirreltle Dove The Squirreltle Dove is flightless yet still manages to take shelter in the smallest of feeding alcoves.
It is also the weekend to play with the writing journal my daughter gave me. It is full of inspirational quotes and writing prompts such as:
What does regret taste like?

And I have an answer:
Regret tastes like that piece of chocolate you really, really wanted. The one shaped in the international symbol for caramel. No need to consult the chocolate index on the bottom of the box. No one would dare to make another, lesser chocolate in the legal, copyrighted, trademarked caramel square...but instead, you bite in and the chocolate is waxy and the filling, while initially chewy turns more and more into jelly with weird crunchy bits. In your brain, you can taste the rich creamy caramel but in your mouth the only thing sticking to your teeth are those unidentifiable, slightly raspberry tasting bits. You want to throw the remainder of the offending candy away but that would be wasteful. Wrong. So you own the lesson chocolate. Not so much savoring as reliving the impulse which brought you to this place. Even after brushing your teeth, the taste of the imposter lingers, as do the calories, now wasted.

The question got me to thinking about regret. I actually have very few. The biggest one – which involved a poorly canceled engagement – was, with the help of time, maturity and the amazing stalker-ing abilities afforded by Facebook – rectified. The others really fall more under the category of 'things I wish I had done'. Such as 'I wish I had gone to Jamaica for my co-worker's wedding ' and 'I wish I hadn't let these extra pounds creep up on me' and 'if only we had snuck into that stranger's wedding photo'....
Because honestly, if I were to change the more major decisions I have and haven't made – such as a different career path or a different house choice or even better financial decisions – I would not be where I am today. And what's the point of wasting a bunch of energy on regretting things that may or may not have brought me to such a wonderful place?

So, as this glorious weekend of nothingness draws to a close. As we prepare to celebrate the ending of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I leave you with this:
Live your lives with conviction and determination. Find happiness in the day-to-day. Even if, once in a while, it means getting stuck with a weird jelly candy instead of an amazing caramel.
And if you're a little afraid, just do what I do and stick your finger in the bottom of that decision. If it turns out to be a lesser nougat or maple weirdness just stick it back in the box and move on.
Because life doesn't come with a chocolate index printed on the bottom and face it, life is too short to waste those calories.

(Please note, I wrote that little exercise after a HUGE Christmas dinner which had followed a HUGE Christmas breakfast which had followed a HUGE Christmas Eve dinner. I had no business breaking into a box of chocolates and in the less stuffed light of day, the chocolates – which were a gift from my sister-in-law – are quite delicious. In no way did I mean to step on Forest Gump's toes with that little box of chocolates analogy. I mean, you can see the flaw in his logic. No one ever eats a chocolate out of the box without first consulting the chocolate directory that finer candy companies place on the bottom of the box or at the very least, poking the bottom of the candy to test it out.)

So from the Coast of Illinois:

Happy Poking!
Happy 2014!


  1. Love your analogy of regret to that caramel imposter. And let me carry it further. If alone when seized by regret/faux caramel I don't hesitate at all to spit it out and think about trying something else.

    If I am being witnessed, however, I endeavor to be polite (no spitting) and paste a smile on my face, however weak, and try to appear grateful for the lesson/nasty candy.

    I don't have many - mostly, a handful of things/men I didn't do, but the things I tried that failed? Still glad I tried them.

    1. I agree Beverly - it is never a bad thing to try and fail. I do wish I had been braver when I was younger but now I have all that brave stored up and the means to use it!! ohoh!!


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