As I write this, the juices of a watery, sweet, well rounded, delectably ripe pineapple swirl around my mouth. Shreds of oh-so-bad-for-your-teeth fruit fibers cling between my molars and incisors, remnants of the huge hunk of fresh fruit I’ve just skinned and eaten. Do you know the feeling? I’m sure you do.
But as of this week, I’ve never had the luxury on my own. You see it was just this past weekend that a friend of mine, over at my house for a bar-b-que, gave me the secret to a perfectly ripe pineapple. I had always thought that the secret to good fruit was to pick it up and smell it. If it smells like something sweet, then you know you’re in for a treat! It’s what I saw my Mom do in the grocery store. It’s what I’ve been doing in the near decade I’ve spent buying and preparing my own food (following her excellent example). However, it was just this past weekend that I was told that the correct way to know when a pineapple is ready for purchase and subsequently for consumption is to simply…wait. Wait, that is, until the leaves at the top of the golden orb release from the stalk with the same gentle force it takes as to bite into the lusciously supple fruit moments later. Wait, until the leaves nearly fall off the plant.
As I sat, just moments ago, slowly salivating my way through one of the best pineapples I’ve had since being on vacation in the place where they grow them, I was struck with the simple life lesson I was eating. You see, I need not have spent these many long years on my own meandering my way through mediocre examples of my favorite fruit (in the whole wide world). No, all I needed to have done was to simply wait. Wait – that is – just a few…more…days.
I bought the pineapple I enjoyed tonight last thursday night. Tonight, is Tuesday. To me, the pineapple seemed ready for consumption this past Saturday until I was miraculously educated else-wise. What I thought was true waiting…was not really waiting at all. I nearly missed out on excellence by a meager three days!
How many times do we miss out on excellence in our lives…by a meager three days?
I’ve been attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for the last month now. While I’m in no way trying to turn this piece into an advertisement for his seminars on money management (although I do HIGHLY recommend them), there was something he said in the last session that just became very relevant to me over this bite-sized piece of fruit heaven. “Live today like no one else, so that tomorrow you can live like no one else.” It’s a catchy phrase…sure. But wrapped up into his cleverly marketed financial wisdom is a whole package of lifestyle change. To live like no one else today actually means not caving to our instant gratification world of high credit, high loans, high bills, and high debt just to be able to eat a substandard piece of fruit baked into a thing we like to call the ‘American Pie.’ Dave gives tons of money management advice in his seminar, and I’m grateful for it all so far (it’s golden…plug…plug), but I can’t shake overwhelming observation that 99% of his advice is just to simply wait just three…more…days! Christian figurehead, Larry Burkett, is quoted as saying that most couples spend the first half-decade of their marriage trying to live at the same standard of living as their parents…forgetting that it took Mom and Dad over thirty years to get to that standard. And that’s assuming the marriage makes it to 5 years! It’s no secret that the majority of marriages in America end in divorce. However, what’s not so well realized is that the majority of divorces are due in large part to finances! Are we missing out on excellence because we cannot wait three…more…days?
I’m not married, but I can identify with these above observations. I live at a standard of living right now that is fairly close to how it was right before moving out of my parents house. The house I live in is a very affordable rent for the area…but it is a lavishly nice house. The car I drive is worth under $5,000…but it is a top spec lavishly appointed late model sub-luxury brand. The man-toys I’ve bought are all great bargains and I have not frivolously spent my money on needless things…but I do have a lot of expensively cool toys. Now I’m not trying to suggest that we should not live well and purchase things of good quality and high value. But at the end of the day, I’m left examining my life to find if I’m really living as a slave to my debt’s instant gratification. Am I truly living a life of excellence or settling for fruit not yet ripe by just three…short…days?
This “Ripe Pineapple” epiphany I had just now over a plate of fruit (did I mention how amazingly juicy it was?) applies to more than just money. If I really wanted to wax annoyingly eloquent I could spend pages upon pages applying this idea to things like Academics, Health/fitness, Christian Spirituality, Work Ethic, …even my amazingly storied relationship history (That one is for the countless number of you who have heard me answer questions about my relationship histories with the classic: “Well…you see….” You know what I’m talking about here!).
So, have you enjoyed a perfectly ripe pineapple recently? No…I’m not talking about a piece of fruit. I’m talking about your life…you know – your adult life, your high-school life, your Spiritual life, your retired life, your dating life. Are you “just starting” out your life, whatever it may be, and realizing that you’ve been cutting corners to live at the standard of living you make-believe exists – all the while knowing that you’ve been eating a half-ripe slice of life?
I have been in several ways, and it’s time to start taking the sound teaching of my influencers and learn to wait just three…more…days.