Oscar Wilde said “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it… I can resist everything but temptation.” It is indeed a tempting idea and I’m guessing many advertising companies could use this as their objective… but how much sense does it actually make?
For instance, insert chocolate cake in there somewhere (yes, please do!). The only way to get rid of temptation – for chocolate cake – is to yield to it [and eat it]. I can resist everything but chocolate cake.’ So far, so like a thousand ads… so far, so good. So far, so safe. Chocolate cake never hurt anyone. Unless it was fired at someone by a cannon at point blank range.
But how far can you take his maxim before you actually have to start saying ‘no’ to temptations? ‘The only way to get rid of temptation to kill someone annoying is to yield to it. I can resist everything but the temptation to throttle.’ Not so funny. Or practical. And, I’m guessing, more illegal than overindulging in Death By Chocolate. Though the results may be similar…
Have you noticed how temptation is generally something which is ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’ for us – how many folks, out for a meal, take a long, lingering look at the dessert menu and say “Well, the tiramisu looks delicious, but I really fancy the fruit salad. I know I shouldn’t…” or, on those occasions when you have some money left at the end of the month, look at your bank balance say to yourself ‘I’d love to get that new [insert name of item] but I can’t resist putting the money away for a rainy day. Naughty, I know…” Or even “It’d be nice to flob out on the sofa with an industrial size bag of popcorn and a cheesy movie, but I am just so tempted to go out for a 3 mile run instead. Ooh, it’s so tempting…”
And why do so many of these statements usually involve follow-up phrases like “I know I shouldn’t.”? Well, if that’s truly the case, then drop the dessert menu and step away from the cake trolley with your hands in the air…
In other words – DON’T DO IT!
Cakes, treats and indulgences are fine but like anything in life, it gets to a point when common sense and training come into play. Oh, that the biggest temptation we’ll ever have will be (I can practically taste it) that humungous slice of oozing cocoa-laden goodness. But like any video game, there’s always the next level… Which we only beat by learning how to conquer the easier levels first.
How many of us have made some really bad choices because we ‘couldn’t resist it’? We’ve all got them. All of us. Some big, some small, some that required several slices of Humble Pie to put right, some that require leaving the country and changing your name to Hans Blickenbaum. The common factor with them is that we wish we could have done things differently. Even with the little ‘blips’ (possibly even the pastry-related ones!).
Learning (and being able) to say ‘no’ to every single little whim that comes our way may be boring, old-fashioned even, possibly even desperately un PC but it’s great training. If I were to train to swim the Channel (ain’t ever gonna happen), I think I’d prefer not to start my training by someone chucking me off the P&O ferry just outside Dover while yelling supportively “Start paddling!”
I just hope that when the major temptations come our way, we’ll be trained up enough to listen to ourselves saying “I know I shouldn’t” and actually follow that advice. In the meantime, pass the cake fork…