One of the main ways we simplify is by categorizing things. By attaching a simple name to a rough set of associated characteristics, we can reduce our mental overhead. Words like house and car convey a simplified but generally sufficient concept of a far more complex object.
But every once in a while, throw out your categories, and focus on experiencing the world in the moment.
Today, Nathan brought some Tartine Bakery cinnamon rolls into the office.
Now when I think of cinnamon rolls, I generally think of this:
But what Nathan brought in was this:
Normally, I don't eat cinnamon rolls. I'm getting older, which means that cinnamon rolls make me fat. So in my mind's list of Chris' rules, I have one that says, "Don't eat cinnamon rolls. They're just not worth it."
But clearly, while this rule applies in spades to Pillsbury's refrigerator-case bricks, it doesn't necessarily apply to Tartine's rolls.
They were so tempting, that at lunchtime, I cut off a small piece and popped it in my mouth.
HOLY COW IT WAS GOOD.
Flakey, crunchy, sweet, rich, buttery, with a fine citrus finish.
I ate half a massive roll before I could stop myself.
The experience of eating the Tartine roll was completely and utterly like that of any cinnamon roll I had eaten before. It utterly exploded my concept of what could fit into the category of cinnamon rolls.
The point (besides the fact that you should patronize Tartine if you ever get the chance) is that while categories are a useful streamlining tool, speed and minimizing effort aren't the only things that matter.
Take the time to really experience the world around you. Those experiences may not fit into neat categories, but your life will be richer for them.
P.S. Nathan notes that what I ate was not a cinnamon roll. More strictly speaking, it was a Citrus Morning Bun. Whatever. I'm heading back to the kitchen after this for another serving.