I used to sleep with two pillows. I’d lay one carefully on top of the other and fall asleep with my head elevated: my dreams took place very high off the ground. And then, one day, I slept over a friend’s house and he only had one pillow to give me. I couldn’t sleep. When I did drift off, my dreams were land-locked and boring. I woke up with a neck ache and quickly ended the friendship.
Soon, though, I got to thinking: maybe it’s bad that I can only fall asleep with two pillows. If I train myself to sleep with only one pillow, then I can be friends with people who only have one pillow to lend me. I can travel the world and stay at motels and hostels and campgrounds where one-pillow sleeping is the norm. People will applaud me for me easy-going sleeping habits and nominate me for public office. I will be a star.
And, pretty much, that’s what happened. I re-trained myself to sleep with only one pillow and now that’s the only way I can fall asleep. I reduced my needs and benefited enormously. For example, these past few days Craig and I have been hopping around like hobos staying at his sister’s apartment, a campground, Rena’s apartment, his parent’s house, and now–finally–a house they rented for the production team. But being flexible makes all of this possible. And it’s a perfect metaphor, I think, for the way people deal with food.
The more needs you have, the less you’re bound to enjoy. Picky eaters convince themselves that they have needs–that they need to avoid anything salty or they’ll get bloated, anything peppery or they’ll choke, anything spicy or they’ll schvitz. Dieters “need” to have three servings of fruit a day, ten glasses of water before they exercise, and forty bites of something green at least 80 times a week.
Needs can be exhausting. And, more essentially, they take all the pleasure out of food. Hypochondriacs will never know the joys of a rare juicy steak. They’ll never experience a frothy egg nog made with beaten raw egg or, for that matter, an authentic Caesar salad. Those who “need” a big piece of meat at every meal, will never celebrate summer with a simple seasonal salad. Those who “need” only familiar foods will never branch out and discover the wonders of Indian or real Chinese (not the kind you find in the mall) or something even more exotic, like Indonesian or Pakistani food.
The less needs you have, the more you’re going to experience. Of course some needs are medical: allergies to gluten or lactose. Others are ideological: vegetarianism, for example. Some are religious: being kosher, say, or giving something up for Lent. But, for the most part, food-related needs are self-appointed. Like the need to sleep with two pillows. Nobody needs to sleep with two pillows–nobody needs to give up bacon. The more flexible you are, the better your life will be. Now my dreams are filled with BLTs and Bucatini All’Amatriciana. Drop your needs and a one-pillowed bacon-filled life is yours for the taking.