What if there was only one?

... or maybe no more burgers ....

Last weekend, I opened a can of “deluxe” mixed nuts (not the ones with peanuts that make all the other nuts taste peanutty) and took out a single macadamia. Raising it to my mouth, I thought, “Just eat one.” So I paused.



It was my inner dialogue again: Super Ego with her Id, Angel with her Devil, Bossy Imaginary Friend with her Impressionable Less Confident Playmate.

“But I need a snack and wow the generic grocery store brand is trying hard. There must be 35% macadamias in here. Four. Four’s not pigging out.”

“One. . . . think about it. What if you had only one.”

So I did think about it. What if there was only one?

I can’t remember the last time I had only one of something. Even if it’s the type of food that I choose to eat only a fraction of (like cheeseburgers or chocolate Easter bunnies, for example), I’ve got access to however many I want as often as I want them.

Now, that’s no small feat. In the not so distant past, you had to (a) find a cow and (b) kill it or know someone who would. Then get them to share it with you. Oh, but wait, if you didn’t have a second cow to provide milk so that you could make cheese before you killed the first cow that kind of blows your chances of this being a cheeseburger. So there’s planning involved, too. Meanwhile, who’s planting the grain so that you can eventually bake bread for the bun?

It’s not just about food. Even my bigger luxuries, the more expensive ones that I could never invent myself, like my computer and car are things that, if damaged or old, I replace — usually without ever having to do without. Not even for a single day.

I stood there in the kitchen holding that macadamia nut halfway between my mouth and the can of 40 other macadamias (with cashews and pecans, too). I asked myself again, “What if there was only one?”

I imagined places all over the world where people never get things like macadamia nuts. Or milk chocolate or beef. Or clean water.

In that moment of imagining the deprivation of others, I realized that I am deprived of something too: the joy of savoring a solitary treat.

Do you remember before VCRs or DVD players? When there were only 7 channels on TV. The Wizard of Oz came on once a year. We would talk about it in school for the whole week leading up to it. And in the months in between showings, we’d take turns being Dorothy acting out the story in our back yards.

I did eat just one macadamia nut that day last weekend. And I ate it mindfully, enjoying it as best as I could—with gratitude. The feeling carried over to next time I washed my hands with soap under warm running water. I savored the gift of that – trying to imagine all the people on Earth who have limited access to drinking water, let alone water to wash with.

But the next day, I showered for 20 minutes and noshed on handfuls of that peanut free mix. As the week went on, I ate another $17 burger (spread out over two meals) and had a chocolate bunny ear, too. Just yesterday, I streamed Gene Wilder’s awesome voice over from Young Frankenstein as featured on The Colbert Report not once, but three times. Because I wanted to.

I guess it depends on my own willingness to be conscious if I want to get this savoring thing down (unless the big one hits or I’m maimed into a wheelchair or some other event occurs that forces everyday luxuries into scarcity). I might as well practice while I still have a choice.

One thought on “What if there was only one?

  1. how true! i remember having only one english speaking tv channel in saudi and they just had programmes from 5-11. you always get me thinking and remembering :) and now all i can think is; how on earth do you have that much self control to eat HALF of a burger???

    …..asks the woman who runs for 20 miles at a time repeatedly. The self control is a muscle that strengthens with practice, silly, you know that!

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