Ok. Let me get one point straight right off the bat. I am not the biggest risk-taker or daredevil there is out there. I don’t particularly care to jump out of a plane or to go zip lining. But I do try to engage in new experiences and find new foods in which to delight. I have lived in over 17 cities at this point in my life. As such, my living patterns definitely show a wanderlust as well as willingness to be in new environments. Currently, I have been to all continents except antartica. I hop eto work on that last travel bit in the coming years. Overall, I like adventures and adventuring (just not so much on or out of planes). Because I feel this way, I often feel that others are similarly minded. But, then I have moments where I realize that not everyone is into an adventure or two.
I have met some colleagues that never, ever get anywhere near spicy food. Such a state of eating is beyond my comprehension. For me the spicier the better. I don’t mind shedding tears when I eat. Sadly, my son is a bit gun-shy when it comes to spice. When he was a baby he used to eat everything we gave him, including gnocchi with bechamel sauce and salt/vinegar chips. Now, he won’t go anywhere near those items. Not that he should neccesarily be eating potato chips. To me its just the principle of things. The fact that he won’t eat a wide variety of foods distresses me to no end. I understand that he is an eight year old boy and that at that age chicken nuggets and pizza is haute cuisine. I don’t need him to eat everything that I do. I just want him to try new foods at least once. Actually. No. I want him to try things at least twice.
Here is the thing. It is pretty easy to try things once. At least in my mind it is. It gives people an easy out as well, I find. And life, when it comes to new experiences shouldn’t be so easy. What do I mean?
My son will often agree to try something once to just please me and get me to stop making duck faces. He will try a small spoonful and then is done with that item forever. We could be in a completely new place and a new way of preparing a food item. Lets say spaghetti and meatballs, for illustrative purposes. The way such a dish was cooked in NYC is totally diffferent from the way it is cooked in California and Italy. But because he tried it once in NYC, its all the same to him.
What I want him to learn is that context matters. And if you try things only once for the sake of giving everything one try, you will miss nuance and context. And these days, lamentably, nuance, is going the way of the dodo. There is no embracing of nuance. So much of what is out there, particularly in social media, is black and white and in extremes. You may seem really cool if you go around saying you will give anything a try once. But the real cool thing is to give everything at least two tries. And I am not just talking about food.
Here is the other thing. With the complete take over of social media, everyone wants to appear and post their selfies trying something. You will see a photo of someone eating alligator bites in New Orleans. You will see someone parasailing for the first time. Question is, do you ever see photos of those same things again? And what was the first experience really like? I believe that many people are so eager to post their first time trying something that they may not even know what their experience was like since they didn’t focus on the event itself but on the appearance of the event. That is why you have to give things a second try. You don’t really take in the first experience anymore. Because we are not fully present and are primarily focused on that “trying someonething once” experience, we don’t even really experience that one try.
A few years ago, I had the great fortune to go to The Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy where Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture is on display. Interestingly, they do not allow pictures to be taken inside. You could see so many people nervously trying to figure out how to take a photo. As I questioned back then, if we can’t photograph it how do we know that moment existed? I will just have to go back and experience the sculpture yet again so that it is firmly engrained in my long-term memory bank.
So, when people scream that you only live once and thus they are willing to give anything a try once-dare them to give anything a second try. That’s really living life to the max.