I like Oreos as much as the next person, maybe more. Those of us who indulge in such junk food have likely experimented with eating them in various ways. We might dip them in milk, we might smash them before mixing in with ice cream, we might enjoy them one bite at a time, or we might eat them whole. There are many ways to enjoy them and I have tried each of the aforementioned. However, the way that brings me greatest joy, and I know I am far from alone, is twisting the two cookie wafers so that they separate and the creamy goodness that makes up the middle is revealed.
As I sit here enjoying a couple of Oreos, I am reminded how much I am enjoying the middle, yet how often we look right past it. Yes, I was speaking of cookies, but I am speaking of so much more. In life, we are quick to celebrate new beginnings and the end of a given journey is often worthy of even more celebration, but what about the middle?
We celebrate the beginning of…
- A new year (calendar, school, or birthday)
- A new job
- A new promotion
- A new family member
- A new adventure
We celebrate the end of…
- A year (calendar, school, or birthday)
- A tour of duty
- An illness
- A long run, bike, and/or swim
- An unfortunate trial
What we don’t spend much time doing is enjoying the middle. When is the last time you celebrated…
- A random day in June
- Mile 16 in a marathon
- Day 46 in a deployment
- The long hours working for a worthy cause far from reaching the next career milestone
- The midpoint of a day with family and friends
The next time you have an Oreo, think about how much you enjoy the middle (face it, if you didn’t like the middle, you’d eat a completely different treat). Think about how fortunate you are to be in the middle of your current adventure. Are you making it a point to take a minute to relish in the current situation in which you find yourself? Need it really be a race to the next milestone or the perceived end? When you reach “the next” or what you once thought was the end, you will realize that it is not the end; it is now the new middle…enjoy it. When we celebrate the beginning, we are really celebrating the possibilities that the future represents. When we celebrate the end, we are celebrating the reality that is now the past. Very rarely do we celebrate the middle as we see it unfolding.
I don’t mean to minimize the importance of creating new experiences, setting futuristic goals, or looking back at memories with gratitude. I do mean to give us reason to pause and acknowledge that life is less about what we have already experienced or are yet to experience. As self-indulgent as it may sound to some, it’s more about what we are experiencing right now. It is the now to which we will look back and smile. It is the past that has given us the now. Now is the middle. And the middle is worthy of deliberate enjoyment. The middle is what matters most. Enjoy the cookie wafers that bookend the middle, but savor the middle and make that enjoyment obvious. For the middle can suddenly become the end.
Life is an Oreo, eat it however you choose. And yes, I prefer double stuff, because it is all about the middle.
- How do you eat Oreos?
- Do you enjoy the stuffing in the middle?
- Are you stopping to enjoy the stuffing in between life milestones?