At dinner last night, someone passed on the most valuable life lesson his mother taught him. Growing up in the 50’s, his mother often served those terrible canned green beans at dinner which he (justifiably) hated. It was always a struggle for his mother to get him to eat them, but because it was the 50’s and not today, she was clear about who was in charge. No promises of desserts or long discussions about the nutritive importance of vegetables (not much in those canned versions!). Just “Eat the damn beans!”
But the mother was compassionate enough to offer some advice which stuck with her son throughout his life.
“Son,” she said. “You have two choices. You can save the beans to the end and spend the whole meal fussing and fuming about having to eventually eat them. In which case, you will ruin any pleasure you get from eating the parts of the dinner you actually enjoy.
“Or you can eat them first and get it over with and spend the rest of the time having a good meal.”
“That really stuck with me,” he said. “Get the unpleasant things we have to do in this life out of the way first so you can savor the things you actually like to do.”
“Ah, that’s a good story,” I affirmed. “But there is a third choice. Your mother could actually have learned how to get fresh green beans at the market and cook them well, perhaps lightly steamed and then sautéed with olive oil and garlic.”
There are often more choices than we imagine.