In Defense of Vanilla

Strange title and topic, yes?

So sometimes I think deep thoughts and sometimes my mind goes to lighter fare. which eventually then turns into more than what it seems on the surface. Life lessons and messages often do come in the most interesting of places and ways.

Vanilla. I have had history with vanilla. I love really good vanilla. Really good vanilla ice cream is a sensual delight not to be missed.

Yet vanilla has been used in a derogatory manner, at least by some in my past. Statements like “That’s so vanilla.” or “Do you try different flavors or stay safe with the old familiar vanilla?”

I wonder, when did vanilla deserve these shaming labels? Why is it seen as better to dare to try something new and different and not see the value in something basic that brings pleasure and memories of comfort and smiles?

Don’t get me wrong. I actually love to try new things, even if I feel some anxiety about them. So it’s not about fear. I love adventures. I love pushing beyond my comfort zone, at least some of the time. I believe there is value and growth and depth to this. And I will continue to challenge myself and grow, as life and aging permit.

But I also do not want to abandon things that I know and love because I “should”.

I love really good vanilla ice cream. Vanilla where you can taste the vanilla bean coming through in all of its glory.

I love the feel of a solid book, feeling the pages in my hands as I turn them, feeling myself holding a story in the palm of my hands.

I love writing with a pen on paper sometimes, to feel the words flow from my hand to the pen as the ink then makes its way onto the page. And I love being able to quickly type on my laptop. Both nourish in such different ways.

I love the sound of old music that I grew up with that takes me back to an earlier time, to memories triggered by that song, to a different version of me that this current version does not want to forget. Memories of dances, kisses, laughter, and sadness that are all remembered with particular songs or pieces of music.

I love the look of old photos, even with the frozen smiles and awkwardness and imperfections. The memories there don’t need to be Photoshopped or enhanced to be any brighter. They are perfect as is. SImply perfect.

I love an old basic recipe that brings comfort in its aromas, tastes, and memories of times spent together simply breaking bread and enjoying each other’s company. And I love cooking these recipes in an older pot, that needs to be simmered and watched. And that allows such anticipation of delights to come.

I love going for a walk, without counting my steps or taking my heart rate. Walking simply to walk and look around and enjoy what I see.

I love sitting quietly holding hands. Just being in the moment together.

I love kissing. Now, I am not opposed to further expressions of physical attention, not at all. But there is such a sensual, good all-by-itself, pure delight in the act of kissing. Slowly, with no expectation of anything more, Rather to simply enjoy the feel of lips touching lips. It is an intimacy that deserves it own space, time, and recognition.

I love simply talking with a stranger for a bit, finding that they are no longer a stranger. That we are on this journey in this moment in time together and how precious that is, even if we never meet again.

I love savoring life moment by moment, as I believe that only the old can do (in the way that those who realize that time is limited can do, where each moment becomes more precious and its own gift. )

I love learning to appreciate my body, as it continues to age and change. It is new to learn to love these changes, accept them, and even try to see the beauty in them as expressions of a life lived and a life loved.

There is more to each moment than we realize. There is more to life than we are often aware of. There is more to vanilla than we ever thought.

I’ll have a double scoop, please.

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