There are occasions when a meal or the first sip of an ice cold beer are just that little bit more satisfying than usual. For me those occasions are when I feel I really deserve them. I’ll have delayed having them until completing something and for that simple reason they seem to taste better. I might have worked hard, exercised or completed a long journey and when I’ve finished the need to eat or drink is great. I therefore appreciate it so much more than I normally would, my senses are heightened and I enjoy every mouthful or sip.
I first remember encountering this phenomenon when I was training for my first marathon, quite some time ago now. Running up and down country lanes for what seemed like forever all I could think about was what I was going to eat when I’d finished. I’d dream about demolishing one of my mum’s blackcurrant cheesecakes, such was my lust for calories. It was these thoughts that got me through many of those long long runs. Alas, I never did actually get to devour a cheesecake. I wasn’t that good at planning ahead and there was never one waiting for me when I finished. Any meal I wolfed down when I got back still always tasted amazing though, I certainly remember that.
Since then I’ve somehow, without any conscious decision to do so, adopted a similiar kind of reward system when it comes to undertaking something that's going to be hard. If I’m going to do some vigorous exercise I always like to plan it so it finishes just before I need to eat. The reward of a nice meal helps motivate me as I toil away. The meal I had in the pub recently after walking 18 miles with some friends was immensely satisfying and delicious simply because we’d walked all that way to get there. Similarly I find that a beer really slides down my throat better if I’ve had a long day, worked hard and I’m back home and ready to relax.
There’s an argument that life is short and you should try and enjoy every moment, which I wholeheartedly agree with. I also think though that you can have too much of a good thing. You need the tough days and to suffer occasionally to give you a bit of perspective and make you appreciate the good things in life. In this ‘have it now’ world in which we live we can get almost anything we want whenever we want, and rarely have to defer doing so. Instant gratification is the norm. If our treats are commonplace we don’t really appreciate them and sadly they loose the magical quality they should have. I want my cheesecake to remain special, it tastes so much better if I’ve worked hard to get it.