Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”
I remember as a kid sitting at my grandma Lentz's dining table. She would cook us a steak, potatoes, and some sort of vegetable. The first thing that I would do would be do reach for the salt and pepper, ketchup, A1, or whatever other condiment I could get my hands on...after all, more meant better, right?
It used to send my grandma through the roof. I can still remember her pulling the condiments away from me and saying, "David, you need to learn how to enjoy the steak the way it is. There's plenty of taste there for you. But you will never realize it by covering it with all that stuff. You need to stop and appreciate it for what it offers you all by itself."
My grandmother, God rest her soul, was a child of the Great Depression. Her family pioneered the beautiful Mission Valley back in the Old West days of Montana, while it was still a territory. Their life was like most people's during those days, difficult and often very very simple. She would tell me about the times when her parents would send her into town to try and coax the mercantile owner into extending some credit so she could bring home a bag of flour.
When she saw that steak on my plate, she did not see yet another meal, she saw a choice. Sitting on that 1950's dish-ware was not a momentary satiation, but a moment of opportunity. It was a moment to consider the tremendous amount of suffering that many are enduring. It was a moment to appreciate the good fortune of a meal.
Our American society often thrives economically on making sure we know what we don't have. Innovation and marketing have their place. But let's not forget to consider the good fortune of having a common cup of coffee, or enjoying a simple home-cooked meal. In these difficult times, rather than looking at what other's may appear to have, let's instead decide to appreciate the simple things we may already possess. And if you doubt the value of a simple meal, I might recommend spending some time working at a soup kitchen, or stoping by one of the rest areas at night to see how many people are living out of their cars.