A friend of ours recently told us she has invasive ductal carcinoma. She told Kim that she was going to go on a special diet. Kim advised her not to stress herself out with too strict a regimen. “If you want a piece of cherry pie,” she said, “then eat the damn cherry pie.”
Kim’s advice is derived, in part, from what her oncologist when she asked him if she should go on a special cancer diet. “No,” he told her. “We did not go to all this trouble so that you would not enjoy your life. Go out and enjoy it.” She has taken his advice. She has not spent the last 4+ years battling cancer – she has spent them enjoying her life.
“Eat the damn cherry pie,” of course, must be paired with another piece of advice: “But don’t do anything stupid.”
That, of course, is our human dilemma. Can you eat cherry pie without being stupid about it? We are, of course, all opposed to being stupid – with the possible exception of Weird Al Yankovic, whose classic “Dare to be Stupid” (check it out on YouTube) celebrates what most of us deplore. (I’m fighting the temptation here to comment on anti-vaxxers.) On the other hand, why not dare to be stupid? I know that many of us are reluctant to look stupid, but actually being stupid might be something altogether different. We admire those who “dare,” don’t we? Some of them, at least? Isn’t boldness a good thing?
One way out of the dilemma is “Everything in Moderation”: Eat the damn pie, but only a small piece, and not very often. But I like Oscar Wilde’s take on the advice: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” In fact, when I googled “Everything in Moderation,” the first ten pieces listed were critical of the advice, which may reflect the dubious wisdom of moderation, or perhaps our human weakness. Nobody says, “Dare to be moderate.” I always feel bold when I eat the second piece of cherry pie that Kim offers me, reckless free spirit that I am. My bold action does not take into account possible collateral damage from pie-eating.
Here’s a challenge: Sometimes at social gatherings I’ll ask, “What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done – not counting your first marriage?” And we go around the room, sharing stories, most of which combine youth and alcohol, mine involving a car. So far, no one has mentioned eating the damn cherry pie.