On the day after my birthday — a day when I was moving slowly and late getting around to eating — I contemplated the idea of chocolate cake for breakfast.
I had a lovely rum ganache cake for my birthday, from the local Oakland bakery Taste of Denmark (which is owned by its employees). It is a very rich, very tasty, very chocolatey cake and I like it very much.
But I didn’t eat it for breakfast, because I realized that I didn’t really want cake. I wanted real breakfast: fresh fruit, homemade granola, good yogurt, some almonds.
That, I think, is being a mature adult: recognizing that you actually don’t want things that sound like indulgences because they really wouldn’t be all that enjoyable. Another piece of cake after dinner is very pleasurable, but treats are really more fun when they’re treats, not a substitute for the basics.
Little kids want treats all the time because they haven’t had all those years of discovering that — for example — too much sugar without something more substantial can feel lousy later.
Young people often associate getting drunk with having fun in part, I think, because they’ve been told it’s “bad.” I mean, when I was younger, I recall feeling like I’d never done anything bad. I went out and bought cigarettes, which is a profoundly stupid thing to do. I also altered an old driver’s license so I could buy beer (I think the statute of limitations has probably run out on that).
But I don’t actually like being drunk. Being slightly buzzed can be fun, but I’m not going to have more fun if I keep drinking, plus I’m going to feel rotten later. (This might also be because I get sick to my stomach before I ever get to the point of drunkenness where I forget what’s going on. I never forget. I remember it all too well.)
Part of maturity, I have concluded, is realizing that you don’t really like doing some of the things that are reputed to be fun.
These days, we call doing things like paying bills and doing taxes and cleaning house “adulting.” I dislike that terminology. Adulting should be about doing what you want to do, not about doing those unpleasant chores that we are all faced with.
I mean, everybody has to do unpleasant tasks, even kids. Remember homework? Or getting dressed up and going someplace boring because your parents want to do it?
Doing the things that have to get done so that you have a roof over your head and food on the table and don’t have the IRS knocking on your door is just something we’re stuck with.
I plan to continue dealing with my taxes by procrastinating as long as possible and then being miserable while I do them. I don’t think that fits anyone’s definition of adult or mature, but I’m old enough to thumb my nose at other people’s definitions.
Mature people decide what they want and then do what’s necessary to make it happen. I want to feel physically good as much as possible, so I eat right, do my physical therapy exercises, and walk a lot. I also want to enjoy myself, so I make tasty food that I look forward to and also walk a lot.
I really like walking. In fact, I went hiking around the waterfront in Berkeley for my birthday. Time in nature with the Bay and creatures and plants is very satisfying.
Doing what you want to do can involve making some responsible choices, like doing physical therapy. It can include setting boundaries: you don’t have to go to late night parties if you really want to be in bed by 10 pm. Learning to say no to things you don’t want to do is as important as saying yes to things you care about.
Despite there being a part of me that likes to think I’m a wild spirit, the truth is that wildness comes out more in ideas and colorful clothes than it does in partying all night.
Being a person who eats cake for breakfast sounds enticing, but it’s better as a fantasy than real life. For me, I mean. Your mileage may vary.