Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Monday, February 27, 2023

For the Love of Peanut Butter and Living in the Now

I had a plan. I was going to raid my extensive recipe collection for my favorite things to make with peanut butter because that is the topic of this week’s podcast – “For the Love of Peanut Butter”. Instead, I decided to drive out to West Texas for a few days with my hubby, Mark, to visit friends and family while he does his annual service at South Plains College as a member of the Sound Technology Advisory Committee. I figured I could write my blog in the car on the way down and have it posted first thing Monday morning. What I didn’t count on was sleeping almost the entire drive after having only two hours of sleep the night before, and my failure to make copies of my recipes before I left. So here I sit, with no recipes, and no idea how I can write a blog about peanut butter. So…change in plans (although I will share a family favorite recipe at the very end).

Two years ago, this situation would have sent me over the edge. I don’t really deal with change. I’m not flexible. I get stuck in routines and plans, and I get anxious and even angry when those plans don’t go my way. I really don’t want to sound like a broken record, but reading Eckart Tolle’s “A New Earth” was a life-changer for me. So now, instead of getting all bent out of shape over not having the supplies I need to complete my task and feeling the crunch of not having finished it in time, I am calmly looking at what happened and trying to find the lesson to be learned in all of this. Tolle has helped me learn to accept what “is” and move on, rather than dwelling on what “should” have been. I can look at what went wrong, tuck that bit of knowledge away for the future, and start looking for a solution rather than someone or something to blame.

As I look back at why I might have wound up in Lubbock, Texas without my recipes and a fully-written blog post, I think it is pretty clear that “Perfect Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance,” as my husband would say, as does getting a good night’s sleep the night before – two topics we’ve discussed on our podcast are the main culprits. I had started packing for my trip earlier in the week, but when I reviewed the list, I didn’t think everything through to print several of the documents I would need while on my trip (not just my recipes). And the sleep issue came about because I was up very late trying to get it all packed – something I should have done much earlier in the week. I was living “behind the clock,” as Amber would say, and it was my own fault. I tried to do too much, didn’t follow my own plans, and let distractions and spontaneous opportunities steal my time and deplete my energy.

Good planning is essential to creating a balanced and purpose-driven life. I like to call it “being a grown-up.” Think about it this way…children are not capable of thinking in the long term. When you tell them that Santa comes at Christmas, and it’s only July, that time span feels like an eternity. They can’t really plan in the short term, either. They might want to eat a snack at 5 o’clock when dinner will be served just an hour later. A child’s focus is entirely on the now, and what they want in the moment – instant gratification. A child does not think ahead or plan for the future. As we mature, we (hopefully) learn to delay gratification, understanding that there are more important things than play, acquiring the next toy, or eating a whole package of cookies. We learn that work comes before play, actions have consequences, and instant gratification is a fleeting comfort. 

Can you imagine if we all lived our lives with the mindset of children? Stop for a moment and picture your life lived as a 10-year-old child. What would that look like? Would you eat junk food all day, stay up all night, skip school or work to play video games, buy every gizmo, gadget, and sparkly object that catches your attention, and get mad whenever things go pear-shaped? Do you do that now?

An adult, a mature adult, has the capacity to differentiate between what they want and what they need. A mature adult can put off what they want in order to take care of what they need. Planning, responsibility, forethought…these are all hallmarks of a mature adult. But what about now, you ask? Isn’t this idea of thinking ahead, planning for the future, and taking care of responsibilities ahead of time in direct opposition to living in the now? Absolutely not

Living in the now does not equate to YOLO (you only live once), which became so popular with younger generations a few years ago. Eckhart Tolle teaches us that acceptance is an important aspect of living in the now. Accepting our responsibilities without complaint – doing the things we must do, managing the tasks that are required or expected of us, following through on the commitments we’ve made, and engaging in the everyday necessities of life – these are the characteristics of maturity. It is in the acceptance of these responsibilities that we find we are living in the now. When you can go through the motions of a dreaded chore while embracing the moment that is, accepting, or even enjoying, the process without complaint or grumbling about what you would rather be doing – that is the essence of living in the now. Be in the moment. Savor every minute of every day…every task, every duty, and every burden in surrender and peace rather than thinking about what you would rather be doing, or worse yet, shirking those obligations in favor of momentary diversion or fleeting pleasure.

So go ahead and plan. Plan well. Think ahead. Consider every possibility. Look at every detail. Give yourself time to take care of your responsibilities, and then add some extra time to it and schedule it to be done before it is due. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to plot out what is urgent vs. what is important. And always, always follow through. Drive your life like you mean it. Live it like you are an all-star batter, hitting that mid-field home run that affords you the leisure of jogging through the bases with no worries, rather bunting and then sliding into first just in time to avoid being tagged out, only to have to worry about how to get to the next base and the next. Be the grown-up. Make the plan. Follow through.

Is it foolproof? Not in the least. Will you still have to play catch-up, switcheroo, or scramble to get things done? Count on it. But it won’t be as stressful. It won’t throw you out of sorts. And you will be amazed at how much time is left over for all that fun stuff when you actually plan everything out.

Oh, and as promised, here is a family favorite peanut butter-based recipe that you probably haven’t tried – Thai Rice Salad. I discovered this recipe over 30 years ago when I worked for Furr’s, Inc., a regional supermarket chain based out of Lubbock. The company hosted a Food Fair at the local convention center, and the corporate office employees (me) got to attend the night before it opened to sample food, take home swag, and learn about various vendors and suppliers. Uncle Ben’s rice had a booth there, and they were giving away free recipes. As my husband is a huge fan of Thai food, we decided to give this recipe a try and it is truly one of our family favorites. You can serve it warm or cold, and I have prepared it with various forms of cooked chicken including boiled and rotisserie. I hope you enjoy it!

Listen to the podcast this week and then join us on MMC Chat for discussions of all things peanut butter. And don’t forget to comment about the blog below.

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