Because Life can only be lived a moment at a time.

Baked Goods

Life is a cookie, not a cake.

Credit (or blame) my Southern upbringing, but I tend to use food in my examples and illustrations.  I'm a substitute teacher, and when I teach a lesson about even and odd numbers to first-graders I'll talk about how two friends can share four pieces of pizza evenly but not three.  If I come to the word "want" on a spelling test I'll say "I want to go to the party," where there will be food, of course.

So it's not surprising that I'd turn to a calorie-driven metaphor when connecting three times of fellowship in the past month.  Almost three weeks ago Mr. Pettit and I spent the weekend with some friends from college.  Last week we drove about an hour and a half to celebrate Older Son's birthday with him and his wife.  This weekend Younger Son and his wife visited us.

Time shatters illusions, especially the fantasy that we'll always have more of it, unfolding before us like a stretch of deserted beach.  When our little boys were blasting through the house like a derecho, leaving dirty sneakers and cereal bowls in their wake, we took those unbroken spans of time for granted.  We could squint and spot the empty nest in the distance but it was so far away we pretended it was a mirage.

Now I can see that life is a cookie, not a cake.  Moments are bite-sized, meant to be savored as stand-alone treats.  You can't enjoy a full day in one gulp any more than you can consume a whole cake in one bite. You don't get the option of gobbling up chunks of life all at once; you get one cookie at a time. 

When I think about life as a collection of moments the goodbyes sting a little less. It shifts my perspective from what I don't have and, indeed, can't have---the cake---to what I do have: A beautiful plate of cookies.  And unlike the chocolate chip variety, I can have these cookies and eat them too:

Waving rally towels at a football game along with friends who know us and still like us
Receiving a parting hug from a son
Strolling to a dock on the Potomac, taking in the lights of National Harbor in the distance
Catching a glimpse of my little boy during a game of table tennis
Listening to a preschooler's prayer

Bon appetit!


Where Do I Send My Thank You Note?

Keeping Score