Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Empty Moments and Shark Jumping

"What do you think is better: the store brand or Breyer's?" And so began a conversation at my local Whole Foods this week. Breyer's ice cream and the Whole Foods brand ice cream were the same price. Recognizing that clearly I am an ice cream connoisseur and that I know my stuff when it comes to the delicious frozen treat, a fellow customer was asking me for my opinion. Even for me, this questions was a toss up. I went for the Breyer's - it had a nicer picture and I could see the black flecks of the vanilla bean in the photo. (For the record, I've never tried the Whole Foods brand, and it well may be much better. I'll try it when I'm next in the store!)

This got me thinking about what names stand for, and how important authenticity is. A lot of people believe we need to strive for authenticity. Brian, my therapist, adamantly disagrees. This week I was telling him about some big steps I have taken in my life recently and how easy they were to do when I just got out of my own way. "That's because the authentic self wants to come through and the only thing stopping her is you," he said to me. I can't argue with that - being authentic is so much easier than trying to be someone else, whether you're a human being or ice cream. Authenticity is easy; being comfortable with personal authenticity is the tough piece because is demands that we stand up, make our case for who we are when every piece of veneer falls away, and then asks us to support that authentic self, lovely or not.

My friend Anthony opened my eyes this week to the concept of "jumping the shark". When a TV series has run too long, and loses its way, those in the biz call that "jumping the shark". ( Jumping the shark occurs at that point where a hit show gets away from what made it a hit in the first place and takes a turn for the worst. This idea made me consider how tough it is to stay authentic and be successful because we have this idea of what success looks and smells like. It's too easy to let others define us, and before we know it we have to live up to some high ideal we didn't create and don't even want. Instead of just being Breyer's, we now have to be Breyer's and compete with Whole Foods. Instead of following my dreams and speaking my mind, I need to conform to an accepted ideal in every area of my life. Or do I?

This is the tough part - knowing when to walk away. When do we get off the circus train? When do we decide that being ourselves is much more important, and also more gratifying, than trying to be anything or anyone else? The truth is that we can get there so long as we discover what it means to be who we are when everything else falls away. Who are we in the empty moments?


Trish Scott said...

This is probably why a dark night of the soul is generally part of the journey toward authenticity. Cultural influences are incredibly strong. It feels like we will not survive without the framework of the usual cultural belief systems firmly in place. The fear of dropping all of that is actually like the fear of death.

From what I understand you already had a fire and other experiences that have done quite the scouring job and you fully understand that being unencumbered is a wonderful thing. Why not let the empty moments be empty? How else can you fill them with something new?

Breyer's Vanilla Bean! That's the real deal. Wonderful post.

Laura | The Journal of Cultural Conversation said...

Love how you connected this with food! :) Seriously though, I've had major breakthroughs with authenticity this week - and it feels good to get out of one's own way! I always forget that part of the path. Thanks - as always - for being genuine, Christa!

Christa said...

Thanks, Laura! Food - the ultimate connector :)

Christa said...

Thanks, Trish! I love the idea of reveling in empty moments. Ever since the fire in my apartment building, I've found that having anything too full - my schedule, my apartment, my to-do list gives me a strange reaction that I've never had before - the need for finding and enjoying emptiness. It's an odd sensation that I look forward to exploring more in the coming weeks.

WholeFoods365! said...

As a fellow ice cream afficionado, I find it interesting that you went with Breyer's over the Whole Foods brand of ice cream. I mean, I totally get it. As a kid, we didn't have much money. I can very clearly remember wanting the Breyer's brand of ice cream because it was the name brand, and we very rarely got the name brand because it always cost more. But every now and again, my dad would give us a special Breyer's treat! So satisfying. Fast forward (so very many) years later, and I actually like the Whole Foods brand better. It's just a little bit creamier. Now, I've also come to find out that the 365 brand of ice cream is actually less bad for you than other ice creams like Ben and Jerry's. Crazy, right? (Not that we should be looking at nutritional facts when considering ice cream, but still!)

At any rate, I just wanted to say that your debate over ice cream resonated with me, and brought back fond memories of that surprise Breyer's container coming out of the brown grocery bag. You've also inspired me to go home and have a bowl of ice cream! So, thanks!

Christa said...

WholeFoods 365 - I am thrilled that you stopped by teh blog and overjoyed that you shared this news about twh Whole Foods brand ice cream. With all the good qualities you discussed, I'm going to give it a whirl on my next shopping trip!