Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

chocolate_milkCigarettes and chocolate milk
These are just a couple of my cravings
Everything it seems I like’s a little bit stronger
A little bit thicker, a little bit harmful for me

If I should buy jellybeans
Have to eat them all in just one sitting
Everything it seems I like’s a little bit sweeter
A little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me
-Rufus Wainwright “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk”

There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
-Mark Twain

What makes some of us attack food and drink with gusto, savoring every morsel and drop, wallowing like little piggies at the trough of sensory extravagance, while others seemingly can not or willingly choose to deny themselves? I am sometimes labeled a hedonist, and while I certainly do not take offense to the word, strictly speaking, it is not a label that really fits me. I do not believe that pleasure is the only worthwhile thing in life, nor do I believe that it is the only thing that is good for a person.

Usually I try to make sure that the majority of my meals are healthy, high in fiber, low in calories, and with a good dose of lean protein. I usually hit the gym 4 or 5 times a week. I even floss and say my prayers before bed. Not exactly the definition of a wild-eyed hedonist, is it? But I am going to have at least one delicious meal  and a glass or two of wine each day.

Some days, however, just like the song says “If I should buy jellybeans. Have to eat them all in just one sitting.” Put a plate of moulle frites in front of me with a glass of nice crisp white wine and there better be more plates and more glasses available.

Maybe that is the real difference between the hedonist and the ascetic. Not the true, dictionary definition of each, but the type people that we associate with those words. The ascetic is someone who is naturally inclined towards moderation, but for whatever reason, feelings of guilt or lack of sensory receptors, denies themselves. The hedonist on the other hand, is someone who needs or wants excess in all things, but strives for moderation as a means of survival.

Then again, as another wise man once said:

“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.”
-Henry David Thoreau


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