On this 10th day after Halloween, my daughter still has all her favorite candy left. Here’s how this happens. I pack her lunch for school and choose 2 pieces of candy to include. Usually I pick her favorites because I want her to have a treat.
Then she comes home from school with that candy untouched and trades it out for candy she likes less. She wants to save her favorites for later.
I know learning delayed gratification is important for younger people so I’m not even going to comment on her behavior. May it serve her well while her brain matures.
But what about those of us whose prefrontal cortexes are fully developed? Because I do the same thing. I often have leftovers in my refrigerator. Given the choice between two items, I’ll choose my less preferred item to save the other for later. At some point my favorite goes bad – hopefully I get to it before then.
Or maybe even more pointlessly, I spend time daily looking for the several pairs of reading glasses I have left around the house. But all the while I have an unopened package with 3 new pairs in my closet that I don’t want to open until I have sufficiently used all my other ones. Which never happens because I can’t find them!
It brings me back to one of my favorite questions. What am I saving for? Is there an inflection point after a certain age that we stop saving things up and enjoy them?
This week I received the news that an acquaintance died suddenly. A great guy who had just gotten remarried, had his first grandchild. He oozed joy, delight and energy when you were around him. He was in his early 60’s and was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but it was a slow-growing one that was caught early so the prognosis was good. Until he went in for surgery and didn’t survive.
The last time I talked with my friend who died, we were discussing climbing in Italy. I’d done a wonderful trip to climb the Via Ferrata routes in the Dolomites and he thought it would be a great trip for him and his new wife. But then Covid hit, life interfered and they never got there. And now they never will.
The whole story hurts my heart and makes me ask again. What are we saving for? Yes, I want to put away money for my kids to use for college. But aside from necessary prudence, I think it bears examination whether we are holding back our experiences, our feelings, our deepest desires until a later date that will never come.
Because as someone wittily quipped, “Someday is not a day of the week.” (unknown author)
Now that I’ve written this post, I think I’ll go savor a piece of candy. Thankfully my daughter’s favorites are not my favorites so they remain safe for her delayed gratification.
What are you saving for?
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