Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Time for dessert
Years ago, a wiser, elder fellow service club member helped me work my way through a particularly difficult stretch. I was in the midst of raising my family and it was a trying time. I felt like a gerbil on a wheel, running as fast as I could go, but not really going anywhere. She offered her experience, equating the different stages in life to courses in a meal.
First there was the appetizer known as youth, many light and easy carefree days with choices abound and there are few responsibilities. One might take small bites of a large variety of options with little investment or consequence. No need to sit down or even slow down. It was easy to take a taste and move on to whatever looked appealing. The appetizer stage was one of discovery — a savory starter but not filling — more a tease of possibilities.
I vaguely recall there may also have been salad and soup days, when one began to settle in a bit, and possibly a call for an aperitif as one matured, but what I remember most clearly was that she offered for consideration that at that particular time, I was in the midst of the main course – the meat and potato days. They required more preparation and effort before sitting down at the table with enough sustenance to thrive. They were the harder, but also heartier times. And, she promised, the meat and potato days would pass, making way for dessert.
The dessert years. These are days of lightness and joy, full of options to imbibe or pass. Life would be easier and so much sweeter having not only survived, but hopefully enjoyed, the main course.
Now, decades later, she is deeply into her dessert years and I see that I have recently entered them myself. The bulk of responsibility to others behind me and the fruits of all that labor ripening on the vine.
I realize that is a lot of metaphor, but the message resonated with me. Where are you now? Young and starting out, a canape? Beginning to settle in, a broth? Are you in the throes of it all, scrambling to raise a family, earn a living, thanking the universe for the invention of the crockpot, working your way through a hearty stew? Or is it finally time for dessert and a cognac?
Speaking with some friends recently, I was reminded of the notion of perspective. This year has been unlike any other year in recent memory. People are isolated. Many businesses and organizations are financially challenged. It has been tough to adjust to personal restrictions in the name of the greater good but most of us have been willing to do what is considered necessary to get back to our norms. There are also some who are committed to only returning to that which serves them and letting go of that which does not — some of the old norms, with a light shined on them, do not seem worth a return. As I have been lamenting the lack of social opportunities during this pandemic, I realize that over the course of a year I have been able to pivot to fill that void. From my vantage point – perspective — much was lost, but if I turn it around just a bit, I can see much was gained as well. My values illuminated. It is now and will always be easier to walk away from anything that does not serve me, my family, or my community. In short, I am saying goodbye to nonsense! Life is short and unpredictable. It’s important to make the most of each day.
If these are my dessert days, I want to be sure to grab all the sweetness available. Even in these difficult times, I am dreaming, planning and enjoying all the treats.
As we move through these unsettling times, we can’t forget to make the most of the time we have on this Earth. We have learned to compromise, and we have had to improvise, but giving our energy to that which we value is still vital. Our ability as humans to care for one another and to seek that which brings us joy is important. These months of isolation have only made it easier to see what matters. It’s not the stuff, but the people that share the stuff with you that is really important. Like the feeling one gets after a good meal, it’s time to loosen the belt a bit and relax. No need to rush back out and jump on the wheel, better to take a walk, enjoy some conversation, ease into the evening. My friend may not have mentioned them specifically, but at this point, a digestif might be a suitable course of action. The pandemic may have soured the cheesecake a bit, but I believe there will be more sweet days ahead.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.
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