I don’t speak cow, but I’m told cows engage in a very specific behavior when they’re put into a field. Supposedly, they go along every inch of fence to make sure there is no break, and only when they’ve assured themselves there isn’t do they meander to the middle of the field and contentedly chew their cud as cows are wont to do.

I do speak child, and I’m not the only parent who knows that kids really want structure even when they say they don’t (and say they hate you for good measure). They want you to be kinda tough and definitely stronger than they are because that’s what makes them feel safe

As always, the venerable Krispy Kreme is ready with its koan of wisdom. I have been known to eat upwards of a gargantuan amount okay two dozen in a single day. The first three or four are delectable. The next five or six are pretty dang good. If I don’t take a break after that, I won’t even enjoy the next dozen. Then by the time I’ve eaten so many I’ve made myself sick, I eat the rest of them so that I can turn over a new leaf in my donut-free life the next day. It’s a first world problem to be sure, but instructive nonetheless: a little bit of something is so much more enjoyable than all you can eat. If I had only two okay five donuts, I would cherish each morsel instead of shoveling them in like a train in the Holland Tunnel.

Speaking of first world problems, have you ever splurged at the mall? It’s exciting at the time, but when you get home, not only are you drained from the exhilaration, you’re jaded from the overkill. It’s so much harder to enjoy two purses because it’s just too much to take in. One carefully chosen, lovingly admired purse is so much more pleasurable.

That’s why we have commandments. You thought they were there to kill your buzz, but they’re really there to heighten it. Commandments are aids to self-discipline, and nothing feels better than self-discipline. We want the easy way, but it leaves a bad taste in our mouth. Self-discipline means no taste of Krispy Kremes in my mouth, but I’m a better woman for it. (Krispy Kremes are on my mind today—when aren’t they—because I took my son to get some this morning, and he was too short to reach the tray in the case. I took my mother-of-the-year self-sacrifice and my laudable self-discipline and put donuts into a box just for him. I didn’t even lick my fingers. It was painful, I won’t lie, but I feel so holier-than-thou right now, it was worth it.) Commandments are an aid to self-discipline, and self-discipline—if done correctly—is the key to lightness of being. There is pain in self-discipline and pain in regret, but the pain of self-discipline weighs ounces, and the pain of regret weighs tons.

I turned 55 this week, and for the very first time in my adult life, I did not splurge or gorge on my birthday. Instead, I gave myself the gift of health. I thought of it not as depriving myself of something temporal but of bestowing on myself something of eternal value. It makes a huge difference to think of it that way. I didn’t feel deprived, I felt light and happy. And I have a whole new appreciation for the commandments and how they lighten our load.

photo credit: wuestenigel Orange via photopin (license)

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