Where I’m at: Arlington (t-minus 18 days to Brazzaville)
What I’m doing: looking for ways to spend this fine evening
Why I’m posting: in need of some good suggestions
Anniversaries and the celebrations therefor are an integral part of all of our lives. Wedding, birthday, new year, etc. etc. etc….a good anniversary presents (ooh! presents for my anniversary!) an excellent opportunity for us all to recall where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to be. Happy, sad, mundane, joyous, but almost always worthwhile.
Well, today is the 10th anniversary of a very important decision in my life, one which almost all who know me are well-acquainted with, if only for the annoyance it’s caused them. February 10, 2001, was the last time I ate a cheeseburger (a triple with cheese from a Wendy’s in Kent, Ohio) or pizza (a couple days previous, from Donato’s in Cincinnati, Ohio). For 10 years now – mind you, that traversed my college education…no small feat – I have eschewed the delicious call of the broiled. And whatever it is that pizzas are.
The reason for giving up pizza and burgers is both simple and complicated to explain. Simple because those were my two favorite foods at the time. Complex because the reason for giving up my two favorite foods is difficult to fully explain. I’ll try to summarize it as such: it was a promise. Ever since I was little, I’ve been planning how to be the best father I could be. I cared deeply for my own dad (and mom, too, of course), but of course took note of parent rearing techniques that I could replicate and others which I could improve. Certainly, I can’t hope to do everything perfectly, but certainly I’ll try. And the pizza-burger promise was one such effort. Despite popular belief, however, I didn’t give up these foods to be healthier, but rather because they served as a placeholder.
You see, for many reasons, I desperately want my (future) children to grow up with an understanding that alcohol (and generally all drugs, incl. caffeine, tobacco, etc.) should never be used as a means of escape. I want my kids to understand that such things can generally be a part of a healthy, sane, and happy person’s world, but not as a salve, not as a replacement for something missing, not as an escape.
Of course, such things are enticing, enjoyable, and often fine in moderate quantities. So how to help instill this healthy respect in the minds of my children? Well, 10 years ago, I thought the answer was to give up alcohol completely after s/he/they were born. In the meantime, I’d give up my two favorite foods, then bring them back after ushering alcohol, etc. out the door later. But years of reflection revealed to me that I was certainly missing the point. Having seen people in college and afterwards in the world who had been cloistered and sheltered from many of the world’s “evils” have difficulty (or worse) with adjusting to the realities of such evil’s existence, I realized that quarantining our loved ones from reality doesn’t better protect or prepare them from or for the world.
So here we are, 10 years later and at a good juncture to reevaluate this promise. Since I’m no longer planning to totally give up alcohol, but rather planning to continue to “use” it in a responsible manner, modeling good behavior for my yet-unborn wee-ones, I think it also makes sense to reintroduce those former delights of burgers and pizzas into my diet. But at the same time, this promise has really been about promising myself, my family, and now my wife that I will do my best everyday as a father someday (and as a person, colleague, husband, family member, and friend now). It’s too valuable to just say goodbye to at the behest of the first 99cent, greasy burger or slice of pizza pie that crosses my path tomorrow.
Thus, I’m going to continue to carry through with my previous promise until I can figure out something else to give up or something else to do to take the place of the burger/pizza denial. Unfortunately, I’m unimaginative and could use your help coming up with something. How do you tell the ones you love, including those that don’t exist yet, that you care through your daily actions? It needs to be something that requires a regular choice, like choosing not to eat/drink something, but also something that can be done every time (e.g. choosing to exercise every single day just isn’t realistic as I plan to be moving to far-flung areas where certain days will be entirely filled with flying/traveling).
So,….help! Suggestions? Criticisms? All welcome. Even from those readers whom I’ve never met. But please, make suggestions quickly…because I’m really jonesing for a pizza!
Who said it: John Sterling, NY Yankees broadcaster for years and years and years
Why it’s relevant: Because no one knows pie quite like a New Yorker
The quote: “The worst education, which teaches self-denial, is better than the best, which teaches everything else and not that.”