I can’t stop thinking about the article, The Life Reports II, that I recently read in the NY Times. (Thanks, Kasey for pointing me there). It really has nothing to do with this sandwich but we’ll get there.
In the article the author asked people over the age of 70 to write on the things in their lives they have done poorly and what they’ve done well. Right there, he had me. I hang on the words of those who are lived decades longer than I. I find their perspectives and wisdom to be refreshing and incredibly insightful. Their lessons learned through years of experience save me a lot of wasted time and energy making some of the same mistakes – if I would just listen.
There is one idea brought up in the article that I can’t shake. The paragraph begins with two words, Beware Rumination. David Brooks, the author of the article, says that those who excelled in the area of self-examination tend to lead lives that were often unhappy and not as fulfilling as others. He wisely suggests that their insistence on obsessing over a certain event in their lives only reinforced the very emotions and feelings they were trying to avoid.
In contrast those who were able to strategically deceive themselves lived impressively, according to Brooks. When something bad happened or harsh words were spoken to them they simply forgot it, moved on, assumed the offender was having a bad day, or (and this is what amazes me the most) they were grateful for it. Thankful for the opportunity to grow, learn, and become a better person. Because at this point we all know that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
For someone who tends to ruminate as much as a cow I was struck with this idea. It seems so counter intuitive. I’ve spent years analyzing myself and situations I’m in for the purpose of learning from them so I could grow and move on. But what I often do is fail to move on. I realize now that so much of my own introspection only reiterates my own personal fears and puts more validity into my negative emotions.
Having read the article it reminded me of where I’ve seen this in my own life.
When Gabe and I were first married I was much more aware of the little things that I feared where eating away at our marriage. I was constantly nitpicking and trying to change so much of him and of us. Since having children I don’t have time to nitpick, as much. Something happens then I think, “we really need to work on that.” Suddenly a child starts screaming, milk spills everywhere, and a funny stench arises that demands my immediate attention. Thirty seconds later I’ve completely forgotten what I deemed a dire situation that needed to be addressed.
This doesn’t mean that we no longer address issues in our marriage but if I managed to forget about what it was that I thought important after 30 seconds, I think it’s safe to say that it wasn’t so important after all.
So I’m heeding the wisdom of those lives that have lived longer than mine. I’m intentionally trying to train myself not to fanatically self-assess but rather to introduce more self-deception in my life. And more importantly use the time I normally would have used to over analyze myself I can not think more of others and focus on their needs rather than my own. More clearly I will be able to see those around me and love them better than I have before, which ultimately brings me the most happiness.
As a way of thanking you for taking the time to read this I have your dinner plans arranged. You’re probably thinking, “Dinner? I don’t have time to make dinner, now.” Yes, you do. Fifteen minutes and dinner will be ready. And not just any dinner, one that will make your family happy and full. No deception needed there.
Roast Beef Sandwiches with Balsamic glazed Onions and Blue Cheese
makes 4 sandwiches
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbl butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
8 slices bread
1/2 lb roast beef, sliced
1/4 lb blue cheese (more or less depending on how much you like)
2 Tbl olive oil
Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the onion and salt and cook on medium until tender and golden in places, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the balsamic. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes to allow the balsamic to reduce.
Drizzle one side of each bread slice with the olive oil and on the un-oiled side add a few slices of roast beef and a good amount of blue cheese, top with a bit of the onions. Cover with another piece of bread then cook on a grill pan or a hot skillet until golden on each side.
Serve with a simple salad on the side.