Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Deep Thought: Best thing is no thing

I usually don’t pay much attention to bumper stickers. Most of them seem to express ideas I don’t want to care about: someone’s favorite band; the place or pet they “HEART;” the politician they think is going to make life demonstrably different and, increasingly, vulgar assertions that in more polite times were only found scrawled on the walls of restroom stalls and subway tunnels. But the other day as I was walking from the gym to my car, I saw a bumper sticker that stopped me dead in my tracks. It read

“The best things in life are not things.”

Well, you could have knocked me over with an iPhone application after I read that, and not because –as might be assumed- I’d never thought of it before. Rather, I simply never expected to see anything like that on the bumper of a late model car in the parking lot of an “upscale” gym in the hyper-materialistic United States of America of the 2000’s. But there it was: metaphysical truth on the bumper of a Toyota Camry.

The best things in life are not “things” (material objects), they are experiences like looking at your children and seeing that flame (or whatever the hell it is) burning behind their eyes. They are those moments that transcend mundane thinking and you see the world as it really is and become simultaneously aware of its beauty and propensity to mete out misery. (Of course, it is also true that many of the worst things in this life are not things either. But any discussion of this here is unwarranted by the feel-good nature of this blog ;-)

Food is great, we could not live without it, but far better than the food itself is the experience of eating something that has been so well-prepared and is so wonderful that it sends you elsewhere.

I not sure that I care
much about food beyond it's ability to provide my body with nutrition and myself with a way to earn a living. But what I care deeply about are it's collateral cognitive and emotional affect within the people I feed and, of course, myself.

How about you?


Ed Bruske said...

Couldn't agree more, Bob. Less emphasis on fussy food, more emphasis on sharing, family. Just park a dumpster outside my window. I'll happily fill it.

Michael said...

I agree, which is why I do more cooking these days than eating out. Making something is generally more satisfying, though I also like occasionally being reminded how much I still have to learn.

Thanks for the Sky Full of Bacon embed, by the way!

blondee47 said...

Bob too many twenty somethings at ur gym...I think age is kicking in and you are feeling your mortality...

Ruhlman also posted a very zen thought the other day....

Bob del Grosso said...

If you could be more correct I'm sure I would not know how to see it.

tyronebcookin said...


Someone asked me once- Tyrone I know you travel and move around a lot and you always pack lite and have little posessions so what do you treasure or keep? Keepsakes, photos, mementos, knicknacks? You don't seem to have do you 'remember the good times' or not accumulate?

To which I replied- I collect experiences and memories, if my mind ever goes on me it will be a sad day. And if my mind does go on me, no keepsake or photo will ever be able to pull an experience or memory back up...its a win-win situation (even though I hate that phrase) Its a motivation to keep my mind in top condition while maintaining my life's collections.

Although I would still not put a bumper sticker on my car, thats tacky. LOL

Larbo said...

Just yesterday, I saw the funniest bumper sticker in years. It was one of those ubiquitous yellow ribbons, but the text on it said, "Supporting the magnetic ribbon industry!"

Sarah said...

exactly, that's why food tastes better when you share it, no matter how simple.

Carrie said...

I'm a musician, and cooking and playing an instrument have many parallels that I'm just now beginning to realize. There's the necessity of basic technique, of practice, of trial and failure. And then there's that moment when you truly accomplish something special, and you know you've given the people around you a transporting experience. As a musician and as a cook (home cook, just subjecting my family to my delusions! LOL) I'm always reaching for that moment.

I suppose the older you get the more you look for those experiences that give you the best life can offer, the truly sublime and lovely moments, because you know that there are dark and awful times that you will have to experience as well. And it's best to focus on the good things in life - the delicious foods, the beautiful Bach partitas. Why wouldn't you?

A viola is just a wooden box, and a potato is just a tuber. In the hands of the right person either can create a truly exceptional experience for someone, but on their own they're just objects. Our human need to create something spectacular out of these things is one of our most redeeming and most civilized qualities if you ask me.

Bob del Grosso said...


"Our human need to create something spectacular out of these things is one of our most redeeming and most civilized qualities if you ask me."

Brava Signora, if I could agree with this more, I'm sure I would not know how to do it.