September 9, 2013
It took me a few paragraphs of this NYT opinion piece, You Can’t Have It All, but You Can Have Cake by Delia Ephron, to get drawn in. I couldn’t really see where she was going with the bakery stuff, and then I cringed at her term discardia, which she defines as “the tendency to throw things away after a few bites…” As child of parents who lived through WWII and faced very real food shortages, I will admit I am more sensitive than the average person about this. For better or worse, I inherited a grave aversion to throwing away food…even questionable food (what’s a little mold…you just cut it away and eat the rest!). But I kept on and liked what I read after that.
Having it all seems to breed wanting more. And since we can’t have it all because it is statistically impossible, and since there is no such thing as more than all, the whole notion seems, I’m sorry to say, depressingly American.
In many countries, having it all is learning to read. Having it all is getting to choose whom you love. Having it all is walking to school without worrying that you might get raped on the way.
In other words, it’s about perspective and remembering there are different ways to look at every situation and circumstance. We are all guilty at times of putting too much energy and focus on the more, and forgetting to embrace and enjoy the small moments when things feel good.
To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up. Like an eclipse.
It takes effort to see an eclipse. You can’t just look right at it. You need protection. And you have to look when it’s there and not necessarily at a time that is most convenient for you. It’s the same with noticing and embracing the good moments. Maybe we need to start thinking in terms of having it. Just that. Leave the all behind.
I love the way Ephron brings everything back to the bakery at the end and describes the visceral pleasure it gives her.
Which is why I love bakeries. Peace descends the second I enter, the second I smell the intoxicating aroma of fresh bread, see apricot cookies with scalloped edges, chocolate dreams, cinnamon and raisin concoctions, flights of a baker’s imagination, and I know I am the luckiest person in the world. At that moment, in spite of statistical proof that this is not possible, I have it all. And not only that, I can have more.
Yes, she can have more, but I have to say that Ephron might want to think about her habit of discarding perfectly good food. It is (to use her own words) depressingly American. (Sorry, I couldn’t leave it!)
As you go through the week, think about what your having it moments are. I am having one right now…working at home, sitting with my feet in the sun and writing.