When my nephew was very small, perhaps 3 or 4, he already had life all figured out.
To verify this, all you had to do was give him a really pretty cupcake. Preferably one mounded with swirls of frosting so sweet that it would faintly sparkle in the sun, and decorated in his favorite color (blue).
What would he do with this cupcake that makes him so wise? He’d carry it around with him. He would love that cupcake for both the pleasures it had not yet imparted, and for the joy of simply admiring it.
And, if he refused to eat it long enough, someone would eventually give him a cupcake for the OTHER hand. And then he’d have two: one to consume, the other to carry proudly as an edible accessory.
What he had already learned, and what I have yet to, was the magic of delayed gratification. The faith in “later”. The ability to truly enjoy anticipation, rather than just consuming and moving on.
No matter the medium, this is where I fail. I, without exception, choose to play today and pay the piper at a vague, to-be-determined date. And now, at age 30, the powers that be are starting to call in the chips. There are debts to be paid, habits to break, messes to clean up, pounds to lose . . . the list goes on.
Despite the disparate causes and areas of my life, the common thread is always instant pleasure. From immersing myself in a narrative (book or movie form), to “retail therapy” to, yes, the consolation cupcake: deferring today’s troubles has always been my misbegotten way.
So now I have 30 years of coping mechanism to reprogram. I have structure to build. I have elbow grease to apply.
And I fear I may have left it all too long.
If anyone has any tips on shoving an amorphous mess into tiny little boxes, please: do tell!