Stop: what’s the last amazing meal you had? Can you remember that first bite, the flavours and smells and texture coming together? Is your mouth watering now? Now, how did the 20th bite taste? The last bite? You probably can’t remember.
I really like strong-tasting beers. Give ’em to me hoppy, give ’em to me boozy, give me anything that pulls no flavour punches. I love that first smell, that first sip. But when I love a beer enough to have a second one (or more), I stop tasting and just start drinking. I might as well switch to Bud at that point.1
Taste is easy to relate to, but the same holds true of nearly everything that brings pleasure: those first moments of an experience are where I receive most enjoyment. Actually, I also get a lot of enjoyment in the anticipation of the pleasure to come.
I don’t remember the 18th bite of that amazing steak, nor that second glass of delectable wine, nor the second last bite of that incredible-but-far-too-large cheesecake. The best things are the best when I don’t try to gorge myself on them. This is in stark contrast with the incessant refrain of “indulge, you’ve earned it,” that we hear from marketers.
Real pleasure comes from moderation, from modest portions and an ability to live in the moment rather than trying to sustain or recapture a pleasure that’s already fading. That way lies stagnation and even addiction. The open secret of moderation is that I can actually savour the pleasures life has to offer, since I don’t immediately need to switch to “where can I get more” mode. Instead, I can just say “isn’t this lovely?” and bask in the moment.
- Actually, not really. Never drink Bud. ↩