Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fortyness - Life is Like a Box of Choco....No, a Hunk of Swiss...

If you were in any way conscious between the 1990's and now, you probably associate this "box" line with a popular movie and the surprises you get inside delicious pieces of chocolate candy and from life.

I have another theory.....

Life is like a Hunk of Cheese.

Yes, cheese....Swiss cheese....

You may or may not be a swiss cheese fan, but one thing for sure you probably know what a piece of swiss cheese looks like. It is generally light in color with well formed holes in it. If you go into an artisan cheese shop you will see huge wheels of the flavorful substance sitting proudly on the top of displays with the iconic wedge cut out of it.

But when you look at it, it is the holes that stand out. It looks almost as if something is missing. The focus is placed on what is lacking, on the empty spaces, and on the incompleteness of the cheese. What the cheese HAS is forgotten.

The holes got in the cheese through a process. After the cheesemaker has taken careful steps to prepare the cheese, it is left for ripening. In this time the different milk sugars, acids, and proteins that make up cheese base begin to separate, transform and undergo chemical changes. It is a long and seemingly tumultuous time for the young wheel. As these changes occur the holes start to form. When the cheese wheel has undergone all of the trials and tribulation of the aging process, it reaches maturity. What is left is a hunk of smelly, yet carefully crafted cheese with well defined and large holes. In the world of cheese, these holes are called eyes.

This is sort of like life. In fortyness we have reached the maturity stage. We have gone through the process of having different people, experiences, ideas, world views and personal traits mixed together as our life base. They have mixed and ripened for the last 40 years and as a result, we have undergone changes. In that time, there were some holes starting to take hold. Some of the holes were a result of bad relationships, illness, or loss. Other holes were from the everyday tasks that wear us down and tire us out. Whatever the cause, as the tumult and trial of incorporating all of our past experience occurred, the holes became well defined, empty spaces in our selves. By the time we have ripened, what we often see is what is NOT there - what we are lacking.

But, remember, in cheesology, those holes are called eyes. The holes we see in ourselves can be eyes as well. It seems that if there were never any difficulty or loss in life that things would be great. If there were no challenges, life would be smooth an easy. Just what we want....right? But what if life had been smooth and mellow, like a nice brie? When an issue came along we would not be able to stand up and conquer it (remember, brie is a soft cheese that gets all melty in the heat.....). To withstand the holes, we must be strong and stand firm. The holes do become a permanent part of us; a part of our structure. But they also can become the eyes through which we can look at life with wisdom and experience. They can help us see the beauty of what we do have if we so choose to look through them, not at them. The holes have strengthened us and allow us to stand up and conquer the heat of life. Have you ever tried to melt a piece of Swiss?

One final thought....

If you are a brie fan, please don't take offense. But, it is a very boring cheese with not lot of texture. When you slice into it it is homogeneous and plain. On the other hand, when you slice into a wheel of Swiss, there are a multitude of designs and patterns inside. It is fragrant and interesting with no two slices looking or being exactly the same. Embrace your holes, look through them and not at them, and you will see the reward of what time, ripening and maturity has left you with.... your beautiful hunk of cheese.

* Image by thenoodleator via Flickr


  1. excellent reflection, as always angie....

  2. I love your analogy! The "eyes" are what brings the wisdom and maturity!

  3. Very well said. It's true that those holes make you an individual.

  4. Nice thoughts. Sometimes my life feels like swiss cheeze - full of holes.

  5. I love the analogy! Swiss cheese could be considered an "acquired" taste, and doesn't always work well with every dish - much like me ;-) Over the years it's been a journey to discover what "works" and what doesn't. What is the relationship between "eyes" and gray hair? lol.... maybe that could be a follow-up post...


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