The hidden message in a Spam sandwich.
I know this is a little off the beaten path, but that’s where I sometimes wander. When my dad called me the other day to tell me he was sitting on his porch eating a Spam sandwich and thinking of me, I wasn’t sure at first this was a good thing. Then it got me to thinking about the simple pleasures that we of the Baby Boom generation used to take for granted that now have become retro delicacies. Like Spam® (the food group, not the email atrocity).
First of all, of course, I wondered why eating a Spam sandwich would make my father think of me. These “whole food” days, Spam is not generally thought of with the highest of regard. But on further reflection, I realized something that prompted this post. Spam (that lovely square pressed meat in a can that is purported to be “pure pork shoulder and ham”) was the ultimate comfort food of our generation. And the only “fast” food we knew of. It was simplicity at its best. It made its debut in 1937 and sold its billionth can in 2004. Not too shabby — and definitely doing something right.
On a cold rainy night, our mothers cubed it up and put in in a casserole that filled our tummies with the warm gooey goodness that made us feel safe and loved and well-fed. (This was of course before we realized it was also clogging our arteries and making us fat and probably shortening our lives with all the chemical preservatives that gave it its legendary shelf life. But our mothers didn’t know that. They were just doing what June Cleaver told them to do.)
And when we found a fried Spam sandwich (made, of course, with thin, pan-fried-to-a-crisp slices of Spam nestled between two slices of thick, soft, white bread slathered with cheap yellow mustard) on our Saturday lunch plate, adorned with Fritos and a real Coca Cola, we were just about two steps from Heaven’s front door. (Remembering those arteries, this could be literal). But like most of the rest of us, Spam has “come a long way, baby.” And still, it knows not to mess with success too much— its mothership Hormel above all knows the value of something that “is what it is.” Spam empowers us to say “YES!” to simple pleasures that may not be completely in vogue.
It seems like most of today’s world has lost touch with this “Spam simplicity” in its “have it your way” mentality (and often, obsession). We’ve gotten so used to driving through for the current generation’s version of “fast” food (probably just as bad for us, and really, not that much faster), ordering it by phone or online, or, even if we’re being diet conscious, going to a lot more trouble and expense for a result that doesn’t bring us nearly as much joy as that Spam sandwich of yore, that we’ve missed the point.
Spam taught us to slow down, slice off a little sliver of something we really enjoy, then sit and savor its flavorful goodness. These simple kinds of pleasures are STILL all around us – and still there for the asking. As a culture, we may well have outgrown Spam (but I don’t think so . . . try it again with an open mind. Slice it thin and fry it crisp and tell me it’s not pretty stinkin’ good), but there are other things in all our lives that get this job done, if only we allow ourselves to stop and make time and space for them.
What I’m talking now, of course, is the time we spend time with our horses. (You didn’t really think I wouldn’t end up back in the barn, now did you? ) It’s so easy to get caught up in chasing our goals and dreams with our horses (or solving problems and finding solutions and learning new stuff) that we forget to savor the simple delights that called us to this experience in the first place.
So I challenge you: when it comes to your horse time, what is your Spam sandwich? What simple thing in this Midlife Horses experience brings you the unspeakable comfort and joy that makes you stop and ponder the goodness of it all — where you’ve been and where you are now? Post your reply as a comment here, on our Facebook Page, or retweet your response when you see this headline pop up on my Twitter feed.Or share of video of your Spam moment on our YouTube channel. I can’t wait to hear about your Spam sandwich revelations!