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Jodie, is like most folks, her level of enthusiasm for garden work is waning in late August. It’s hot outside. Her lips and cheeks have been soaked in far too much tomato acid. Her arteries are fully clogged from all the fried okra. She has tried no less than a thousand squash and zucchini recipes in an attempt to make it taste like anything but squash or zucchini. Yes, life is a never ending journey in a sense, but it appears at this point, that gardening just may put an end to this phase.

Then it happens, the garden has not been visited for harvest in three days. How much could possibly have happened in three days? There they are; zucchini the size of baseball bats, squash that look like clubs, and okra so large and tough they warrant weapon status. Jodie frantically clips, pulls and tosses in hopes that a future harvest has not been stunted.

She sits, exhausted, sweating, and wondering why vegetables can’t be more like cheese. It ripens and gets better with age.

Jodie is hot, tired and feeling the effects of time herself. Then it occurs to her,” Am I getting better with age? Or am I more like okra?”

The good news is that she has a choice, as do all of us.

Some people tend to get tough and tasteless as they age. They let the negative experiences of life scar their hearts. They lose the ability to show compassion to others. Their capacity to sympathize and empathize is reduced. No matter how many different ways others may try to help them or prepare them for the future, they still remain the same, tasteless and maybe even a little bitter. They effectively become like weapons, with their sharp attitude and tongue, stabbing others at every opportunity.

Others of us manage to age more like some cheeses. Many of the aged cheeses are given their characteristic flavor by inoculating them with specific bacteria that are then left to grow. These bacteria transform the proteins in the cheese, release gasses, and thereby create the variety of flavors we enjoy. The flavor depends on the type of bacteria, how it is applied, and how long it is left to age.

The possibilities are endless.

In a similar fashion we can let our experiences in life nurture and transform our actions into those that are kind, sensitive, and send a whiff of encouragement lofting through the air. Each of us offering our own unique flavor. We realize that life is a never ending journey, and we make the best of our time here before moving on.

As we age, we can choose to let our personal journey make us tough and bitter, or richer and more flavorful.

Say, “Cheese!”

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