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  • Thomas A. Wilson

It Ain't Easy Being Cheesy

According to Wikipedia, people in France, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Germany eat a lot of cheese. During 2014, their average consumption was 55 lbs. per person—that’s more than a pound a week. Cheese trays, nachos, cheese balls, chili with cheese, string cheese, cheese spread, grilled cheese, and a nice Selles-sur-Cher (a young goat’s cheese) are just a few selections from the myriad of yummy cheese-based offerings produced around the world.


Cheese, a creamy blend of high-quality protein, milk fat and minerals, predates recorded history. Turophiles (people who REALLY like cheese) postulate that some early traveler transported milk in a bladder made of bovine stomach. Rennet, milk, and bacteria combined and, “voila!” the first cheese. Cheese enthusiasts beware, the study of cheese is unending. Professionals spend a lifetime on the subject. The cheese industry’s organizational chart rivals the Pentagon! Cheese makers, cheese mongers, cheese stewards, affineurs or cheese-agers, cheese tasters, buyers, chefs who specialize in cheese dishes (fondue), and writers who turn just the right phrase to describe the nutty-smooth flavor of Fleur du Maquis, all celebrate and prosper with cheese. It’s serious business.


In France, it’s against the law to make Le Salers, a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, in any month other than April to September, “when the milk tastes of the mountain flowers that grow in Massif Central.” (I suspect that being in the slammer for illegal cheese-making doesn’t impress the other fellows on the cell block—even in France.)


Out of curiosity, I checked the Bible for what it had to say about cheese. I discovered the word appears just three times: once metaphorically in the book of Job, and twice, oddly enough, in the 17th Chapters of both 1st and 2nd Samuel. Both references in the books of Samuel refer to literal cheese delivered as war rations. Young David carried cheese to the commander of his brother’s unit when Israel assembled against the Philistines. And King David received provisions of cheese from his supporters during Absalom’s rebellion. An army travels on its stomach. One could say that kingdoms rise and fall on the power of cheese.


Here in the United States, the Greatest Generation sacrificed heroically during World War II. Ration books were common place. No one complained much because the boys needed the resources. They understood that provision precedes victory.


Early in America’s history, the United States Congress raised $11 million through the sale of bonds to fund The War of 1812. War got a little more expensive a century and a half later—during World War II, Americans purchased war bonds totaling $185 billion. That amount of coin is just enough to buy two Virginia class submarines at today’s prices. It takes a lot of cheese to fight the good fight.


The point of all this history is that specific outcomes necessitate specific inputs. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You get out what you put in. And people are at war. Not a shooting war, necessarily, but to paraphrase Bobby Knight, “Life is a game you play against yourself. Your opponent is your potential.” The war to which I allude is very personal.


I once knew a young woman who drank four 16-ounce soft drinks a day. Every day. That’s 920 calories and 248 carbs—365 days a year—just from the beverage. By doing so, she invested in her future. Sad to say, but her future consisted of obesity and other health related issues.


A good exercise for any future-focused person is to make a list of their current optional consumables (including cost) in one column, and current personal development expenditures in the other. For example, in the first column, list things like cigarettes, beer, cable television, specialty coffees, junk food, recreational drugs, etc. In the other column, list exercise equipment, books, seminars, and the like. Compare the two columns. Now, I’m not suggesting that the left column be totally empty, but what conclusions are in order given the particulars?


Wouldn’t it be cheesy if a person invested in unhealthy or superfluous things their whole life, and never got around to investing in their best self? That would be underliving, wouldn’t it?

Oh, by the way, for less than $20, you can get a copy of Authentic Man School: A Practical Guide for Next-Level Living delivered to your front door. Just saying.


MANerism:

All computational devices depend on input to produce output. From calculators to computers, horses to homo sapiens, hardware and wetware both depend on a simple sequence: input-process-output.


Affirmation of the Week: I courageously invest in my own personal development in order to achieve my goals and realize my dreams. I understand that fortune favors the brave.

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