Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Indulgence: Sunday musings…12/21/21

1 Culture. “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” -Anonymous

On the White board at the surgery center where I do much of my work. Also, the guiding principle underlying why and how I built SkyVision.

2 Familiar. The description of the loss a husband suffered upon the death of his wife. “A quiet, familiar life with the woman he loved.”

I owe a note to a friend thus suffering.

3 E.D. Hirsch. You likely know Mr. Hirsch as the author of “Cultural Literacy” if you know of him at all. Published in 1987, “Cultural Literacy” posits that education must begin with the teaching of specifics. His tome is heavy on what was once known as Western Civ, and he is adamant that teaching in primary grades should emanate from the teacher teaching these specifics.

He is particularly dismissive of the notion that children who are exposed to more “experiences” are somehow at a kind of automatic advantage. “That’s what fiction is for.” To him it matters not where one acquires knowledge. “The residue of experience is knowledge. If you get your knowledge from the classroom, it’s just as good as if you got it from going to the opera.” (HT WSJ)

Food for thought with our children and grandchildren learning from home so much over the last year and a half, and we have a front row seat to the show.

4 Indulgence.’Tis the season, eh? Indulgence at this time of year, at least in the Judeo-Christian world, is rather obvious. I weigh and measure my food all year so that I can eat pie at Thanksgiving and cookies at Christmas. Neither of which I weigh or measure, by the way.

There’s an aspect of guilt when it comes to indulgence. It’s more than just the occasional treat. An inch of dark chocolate on your Paleo Diet doesn’t really cut it, and if you consider that an indulgence it’s probably time to loosen up a bit. I was thinking that the ultimate First World indulgence is the un-timed hot shower, but anything that occurs on a daily basis probably doesn’t count either.

Uh uh…indulgence involves a certain sense of not only excess but also a bit of “I really shouldn’t”. Jay McInerney: “I find the shadow of guilt always adds piquancy to any indulgence. It’s almost more pleasurable, feeling slightly guilty.” As a boy raised Catholic by a mother who openly admired the way her Jewish friends raised their kids (producing what I’ve come to call “double guilt”), I definitely get the “shadow of guilt” angle to indulgence, especially with ones that only occur on rare occasions.

Others, though, indulge in ways both frequent and grand. Indulgence writ large, if you will. Take, for example, Lilly Bollinger and her approach to Champagne: “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it–unless I’m thirsty.” Man, THAT woman knows how to indulge. Not much guilt evident, either. I’m sure my Mom wouldn’t approve, and I’m equally sure that Lilly wouldn’t care.

In a perfect world we would all be more like Lilly Bollinger, indulging on a daily basis in something that brings us pleasure with or without a side of guilt. The world, as I’ve said, is messy, no matter where it is you might live. Indulgence is what you make of it, and it’s probably a good thing that we have this Holiday Season during which we give ourselves permission to indulge a bit.

Life is messy and life is hard. Go ahead and indulge. You’ve earned it.

I’ll see you next week…

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