Savoring Life (and the Little Things)

Mountain Dew Photo by James C. Magruder

My father was a single parent. He raised six kids. Three girls. Three boys. Make that three hungry boys. We certainly had enough to get by, but not many extras. Like a case of Coke. Soda was a luxury in our home. Perhaps that’s when I learned to savor things—big things—and little things.

As a young teenager, I remember buying an ice-cold Mountain Dew at a gas station one hot June afternoon. Although I was ready to guzzle it, I wondered if I should delay the gratification, preserve the pleasure, and savor it later—at the perfect time. I elected to save it and stashed it in the lower right-hand corner of the fridge. It was the sole soda residing there—but it was mine. For extra security, I think I put my name on it.

Summer days ticked by, but my Mountain Dew remained safe, strategically hidden behind low-demand food stuffs. But I never forgot it was there, and I waited patiently for the precise moment to indulge. Surely, there would be a hotter day, a more humid day, to relish this delicacy to its full potential. I’ll wait for it. I’ll anticipate it. I’ll maximize it.

“Unless each day can be looked back upon by an individual as one in which he has had some fun, some joy, some real satisfaction, that day is a loss...”

                                                                                 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Unbeknown to me, every day someone else noticed this isolated, unguarded elixir hidden in the deep recesses of the fridge—my younger brother, Bob. From his point of view, my attempt to savor it, was nothing more than cruel and blatant temptation to mere mortals—and especially someone who believed in living in the moment. Bob rejected the notion of delayed gratification, defaulting to impulse, instinct, and opportunity.

July came and went. Bob surveilled the fridge all thirty-one days. The green and yellow aluminum can was untouched, even though it was now visible as the food stuffs that hid it, like boloney, celery, and lettuce were slowly consumed.

Meanwhile, I decided that the dog days of summer in mid-August would be the optimal time to savor my Dew. Day after day ticked by. When the steamy afternoon of August 15th arrived, the thirst-quenching conditions were perfect. It was time. And I was parched. I opened the fridge door, squatted, and reached for the prize. It was gone. Funny, it was there yesterday. No longer able to resist the relentless temptation, and willing to endure my wrath, Bob drank it earlier that day. I was furious.

For years, this story was recounted at family gatherings. When my sons were young, they sympathized with me. Uncle Bob was the villain. However, through the years my sons witnessed how I save things for the right moment, never opening a Christmas or birthday present early. Over time, they reversed their allegiance and sided with Uncle Bob, believing the ever-present temptation of one unguarded soft drink in the fridge (for months at a time) was too much for a young soda-deprived kid to bear. (Never mind that my name was on it.)

To this day, I love Mountain Dew. (I’m enjoying one now.) And to this day, I savor things. Certainly, things of greater magnitude than a soft drink. I routinely savor that which is precious—little things and big things—my marriage, my faith, family, lifelong relationships, deep friendships, blaze orange sunsets, the expanse of a cloudless blue sky, a balmy summer breeze, the smell of fall, a gentle snowfall, the passage of time, memories of my parents, a good hard laugh, and a measured pace of life.

To savor is to “taste and enjoy something completely.” This is what I desire to do with the rest of my life—savor it. I want to taste life and enjoy it completely.

And by the way, the last time Bob stopped by, we enjoyed a cold Mountain Dew together. (Although he still owes me one. And he still believes, however misguided, that his long-ago misdemeanor was justified.)

Savor your life.


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