Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Comfort Food for the Mind

My family used to be servants to this beautiful black Labrador Retriever, who was the sweetest lady you could ever meet. One of her most endearing qualities was her affinity for creating habits, routines, "comfort food" of any event that we initiated. We had to be careful in choosing what we did with her because we knew it would become an expectation for her. Once, we tossed sticks on the driveway for her to retrieve on a Saturday morning after her walk. Thereafter, Saturday morning was stick day and she had great powers of communicating what she wanted. She expected that playtime every Saturday morning. Once we gave her the last bite of a banana and thereafter, she expected the last bite of any banana being consumed. It didn't take a dozen times for us to introduce a routine to her for her to consider the routine to be a habit and a requirement. Once was enough. Maybe she had OCD, but she was extraordinarily trainable.

Sometimes, I think people are similar to my favorite Labrador Retriever. When we find something we like, we immediately attach our minds to it, and incooperate it into our daily routine. I try to avoid thinking of food in a routine like that, because it spells disaster for my diet. I think of those comforting habits of the day as the way we center our universe--that morning cup of coffee, the newspaper, and the favorite morning show; the exercise routine, e-mail with our friends. Some TV shows can become a routine that tells us all is well with our world and comforts us in times of depression, sickness and grief. Note the disappointment expressed when some favorite TV shows ended--Sopranos, Jerry Seinfeld, Star Trek. We had to find new comfort foods for the mind.

Our pet Labrador has been gone for eleven years, but she provided great enrichment, entertainment and comfort to us for sixteen years. Like Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars said, "I will be with you always". In her absence, books have been and will always be my comfort food for the mind. A book in hand can be the best friend a person could ever want. Books are the only addiction I need.

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