An Epicurean Waxing and Waning

The first bites of chocolate cake are the sweetest. The first warm day of Spring is the most refreshing. The first moments of a new relationship are the most exciting. The world of firsts is ripe with all that is good, but there is a truism lying underneath, just one small prick away. When it escapes in all its tired glory, you roll your eyes. “Nothing good can last forever.”

You know that with one more bite of that chocolate cake you will be in sugar overload, but you eat it. You are aware that the renewing energy of spring days will soon become the norm, but you can never really imagine that to be true until it is. You think that the butterflies will last forever, but eventually, the lustful excitement of a new relationship levels to the more temperate stage of committed love.

We know these things are coming. It is not for a lack of understanding that we find ourselves desperately clinging to the waning bliss. And yet, it’s something we confront again and again. The fact that whatever it is we are enjoying will have to end, or, rather, transform and evolve into something else. It doesn’t matter how many Deepak Chopra podcasts we listen to, the theoretical knowledge of accepting change, never makes the reality any easier to swallow. It’s something that must be taken in every time, each loss faced anew.

But there are times we choose not to take it in. When we can’t stop ourselves from eating too many cookies or surfing one too many blogs while we know we should be doing our work. We know, we know, we know. We are indignant teenagers telling ourselves over and over that we actually do know better. But somehow the actions we know we must get on with seem just a stretch too difficult, or maybe just too uncomfortable. It isn’t until the weight of an impending deadline or our own self-disgust motivates us, do we finally move over our mental hurdles and into action.

And then we think, “That wasn’t so bad.” We glow with the pride that comes from an accomplishment as small as doing our laundry.

Is this what they call being out of balance? Or is it just being an epicurean?

The word was first put into context for me on a trip to Israel. A new travel friend, commented that my boyfriend was an epicurean, a seeker of pleasure, after he had witnessed our unabashed love of food and the quest for finding the best of it in on our travels. I liked the sound of that. “The French always know how to elevate the everyday,” I thought. I would have just as easily belittled the passion we have for food to a shameful obsession. And that’s how I often felt when people would point it out, I would feel ashamed and gluttonous. And just like that, something as sophisticated sounding as an epicurean would be reduced to one of the seven deadly sins. The line was fine and this is what bothered me. My view of myself could change with the weather.

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This example, of course, shows something simple, a truth that must be drilled into us time after time. The fact that it really just comes down to the way we see it. Whether that means switching the word “should” to “let” or honoring all of our feelings as valid, making the tiny shift is what grounds us and moves us forward with solid footing. Someone dubbing a love of food as being epicurean made it easier to wear my passion proud. Realizing that the time I have “wasted” on the Internet, has, in some manner or another, helped inform my future decisions and illuminated another aspect of myself, makes it easier to accept the time I cannot count as productive.

Another fact rang loud and clear upon looking up the definition of Epicureanism, which is as follows:

“A philosophy advanced by Epicurus that considered happiness, or the avoidance of pain and emotional disturbance, to be the highest good and that advocated the pursuit of pleasures that can be enjoyed in moderation.

Yep, moderation. Even those Greek pleasure seekers acknowledged that moderation is what keeps everything on the right side of that fine line.

So maybe we can take solace in this fact; that there will always be more chocolate cake, more pleasures to be had, and those Earthly pleasures will be all the more enjoyable if we’ve eaten our greens first and made that chocolate cake from scratch.

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