December 12, 2009
I am eating my lasagna cold.
Ice cold, as a matter of fact. The cheese is not warm and gooey, the roof of my mouth rests easy knowing it mustn't guard against impending second degree burns, and my mind does not drift off, like usual, to ponder just how much that flight to Italy would actually cost and whether or not I would be attracted to men in tight pants.
Well, maybe it does. But just for a second.
At first glance, the mere fact that I'm eating cold lasagna appears entirely trivial.
However, if you've ever dug into a hearty meat sauce lasagna that suddenly springs a surprise piece of sausage on you, you're well aware that this can be one cunning little dish.
You see, the fact that I'm eating cold lasagna is, in all actuality, more revealing than anything anyone could ever glean about me from a face-to-face meeting. It says more about me than my hairstyle, my outfit, my choice of words or the way I sometimes snort when I laugh really hard. (Stop it, it's endearing.)
As I stand in the kitchen, clumsily scooping the frigid 3 x 3 square onto my plate, licking any remnants of ricotta from the spoon, I look down at it. I look the lasagna right in its top layer, and think, “I could heat you in the microwave, you delicious little slab of pasta you. Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll heat you for 1 minute and 30 seconds, and wait in eager anticipation for the all-too-familiar ding that signals the start of most American family meals.”
But as I trudge toward the microwave, I stop. Other thoughts rapidly invade my brain, faster than you can say Pinochet:
“I wonder what this tastes like cold.”
“Why doesn't anyone ever eat lasagna cold?”
“Why doesn't anyone ever eat anything cold?”
“Do high temperatures necessarily equate to better taste?”
“Maybe, just maybe, lasagna tastes better cold.”
“Well, I don't suppose I'll know unless I try.”
And with that I grab the salt shaker.
To answer the most pressing question, yes that was an epic fail: Lasagna definitely tastes better hot. But I mention it because lately I've noticed this sneaky form of rebellion craftily weaving its way into my life, manifesting itself as things other than processed flour.
For example, just last week I found myself actually contemplating whether or not there might be some alternative to brushing one's teeth. Yup, no kidding. Is there a better way to do this, or do I really have to do this twice a day, every day, for the rest of my life?”
Yes, I did actually ponder that, but don't worry—I'm still Crest fully clean. But what frightens me is this: Not only did I ponder that, but I even noticed a developing yearn in the back of my head to deliberately skip brushing my teeth right then and there and go to bed without doing so…just for the sheer thrill of it.
Thrill?! Yes, thrill.
I know, it's a bit insane. And dirty. But I couldn't help but think that the nature of brushing one's teeth on a daily schedule from now until the day your heart stops beating is actually a bit daunting—and as much as I enjoy clean mouths in general, I'm now finding myself with a strange urge to rebel against these tiresome little life obligations. It seems as if anything that requires routine is suddenly a target. I am shifty. I am restless. I require constant mental stimulation. And I hate being obligated into mental passivity.
And when I am?
I act out. I rebel.
The toothbrush example is inconsequential in the big picture; such small, recurring instances have begged a far more important question to be addressed, one that's been clanging around loudly in my brain the last few days:
Is it the case that we rebel against something because we truly do not like it,
or do we secretly rebel for the thrill of rebellion itself?
If extended beyond the age old question of to heat or not to heat, to more meaningful aspects of our lives, such as whether it's prudent to leaving one's job in favor of a more fulfilling lifestyle, I'd argue that it's a combination of both. Rebelling against something in the name of a preferred alternative is certainly warranted, but I would also argue that rebelling against something for rebellion's sake, or the thrill that accompanies it, holds unsuspecting merit despite its futile appearance.
Here's why: The act of rebelling against certain societal assumptions, expectations and demands, for example, is the product of critical thought. And it's only by thinking critically about everything we do, are we able to reach a higher level of consciousness, free ourselves from the confines of group thought, and thrust ourselves forward.
I do not believe that many of the things we are taught to do in life are done because they're the best way to do them. I believe that they are done because they are popular. What makes them popular is another matter: Sometimes it may be because something is effective, but more often than not, it might simply be because something is easier.
Case in point: 9-5 is much more popular than entrepreneurialism. It is easier to go to work for someone else from 9-5 every day and do what you're told, than it is to think critically about something that might make you happier, and then put in the time and effort to go and get it; however, it's likely not the most effective means of creating an income or finding self-fulfillment.
This scenario points to a butt-naked truth: As a whole, we would rather be comfortable, than fulfilled. (Did I just go from lasagna to nudity? Why yes, yes I did.)
Here's what I want for you.
Think critically about everything. Just because everyone else is doing it, does not, by any means, mean that you should, or have to. Determine your path based on what makes the most sense to you. And whatever you do, do not let your voice get drowned out by the voices of others when it comes to your life. It's yours for a reason. Do something with it.
On a personal level, I am continually assessing the value of everything that I do. I've noticed that many of the things that either other people ask me to do, both directly and indirectly through set expectations, or things that I've simply been doing out of habit are, in effect, absolutely pointless. Many of these things are simply not effective in terms of time management or skill management or happiness management, and more often than not, there would be absolutely zero long term effects if a given task weren't carried out. And, if that's the case, then why spend the energy doing it? Why not dedicate my best and brightest brain cells to doing something that will have a lasting impact?
And, why don't you?