Thursday, April 6, 2017

Essential

Continuing on my goal to finish the alphabet list of my five favorite things that begin with each letter, we arrive at the letter E. And E is Essential. The letter E is the beginning of so many of my favorite words: Enchanting, Enamored, Ephemeral, Ethereal, Empyreal, and Effervescent. Also Embrace and Embers and Enjoyment. Along with Exotic, Exquisite, Excellence, and Ecstasy.

I like the sound of Emporium, Emblem, Empirical, Extrapolate, and Epoch. Morbidly enough, I also like the soft yet sinister sound and threat of the words Eviscerate and Exsanguinate. They lure and strike terror, so visceral and fatal. I also like the rhythm and meaning of Elucidate, Enumerate, and Explicate.

I like to Exercise--my rights, my freedoms, my body, and my mind. Just so you know, I'm not a gym rat. But a thirty minute workout five times a week gives me the strength and energy to tackle the work week and keeps me fit and strong and healthy. Exercise clears my mind and helps me achieve focus.

I like mixing things up--some days, I swim or hike, so it's not all calisthenics and running. But I admit, there are times when a short run turns into a six mile chase that extends that runner's high for a little while longer. And I like to challenge myself to run faster, farther, and longer from time to time.

Variety makes working out fun. It's why I enjoy hiking and swimming--no two experiences are ever the same. Yet, every experience is challenging and can be quite enjoyable. And workouts are fun with the right music to motivate and energize you. And some days, all I do is turn on the music and dance til I'm out breath, or it's time to get ready to shower, dress, then leave home and venture out into the world.

Emeralds are my favorite gemstone that begin with the letter E. It's also the only gemstone that I can think of that begins with E.

I love the color and cuts of emeralds. Gorgeous!

Of all the places I've been fortunate enough to visit, I like Europe, Egypt, and the places near and on the Equator. I'll take the tropical heat any day over the frozen Arctic. It's a heck of a lot easier to cool off from the heat--by finding shade, taking a swim, or hopping in a cold shower. It's much tougher to keep warm with all that ice, battling fierce winds. Much respect to all you snow dwellers and Eskimos!

I love many foods that begin with the letter E. Among them are some of my favorites: Enchiladas, Empanadas, and Emmentaler cheese.

An enchilada is a corn tortilla wrapped around a cooked filling and baked in a gravy sauce. Think burrito/spring roll meets lasagna. And I love any meat and cheese filling enchilada smothered in chili and cheese sauce. Chicken, pork, beef, even seafood--like shrimp, fish, lobster, and octopus--so long as it's baked tasty and covered with cheese and sauce, I'll eat it!

An empanada is just a fried pie. Yes, some people bake empanadas, but to me, the best tasting ones (that require more work and clean up) are the fried empanadas. And I like all sweet and savory varieties, so long as they're delicious, crunchy, and have no trace of that disgusting, soapy cilantro/coriander that always ruins the flavor for me.

Swiss Emmentaler cheese tastes great, and I love the holes in the cheese!


It looks fantastic and festive, and it's the first cheese that comes to mind whenever I think of delicious cheese slices. And it's also the most recognizable cheese from cartoons. It melts great, too, and it's delicious in sandwiches.

Like previous alphabet lists of five favorite things that begin with a certain letter, I had problems narrowing down a top five. But I decided to keep it simple and go with the first five that come to mind. So here it is, my five favorite things that begin with the letter E.

1.  Egalitarian

I love this philosophy. Egalitarian is the belief and principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. I am a firm believer and advocate of this idea. And I try to live up to this belief everyday. And to be honest, it's not always easy to put into practice.

I do try to treat people the way I would like to be treated: With respect and courtesy. But it's hard to be egalitarian when faced with a lot of rude and gawd awful cretins almost everyday. I'm both disappointed and sad to realize that people acting like jerks seems to be the normal now. And that's not okay.

But that doesn't mean I've given up hope. I still have faith in humanity. I still believe that there is enough goodness left in us to make the world a better place...or at least keep it livable enough to pass on to the next generation. Hopefully, they'll do a whole lot better than we did.

I still say "Please" and "Thank you", and I still act courteous, because it matters. And I can see the positive effects these simple words and actions have on making people more friendly, polite, or at least act more thoughtfully and kindly. It helps me be more mindful of my words and actions, reminding me that I have an effect on the world, and I want that effect to be positive.

That being said, I also accept that sometimes, I do have to set aside my better nature and go with my gut instincts. And that means sometimes, when dealing with gawd awful jerks, I'm going to be less egalitarian, and that's fine. There are times when you have to fight fire with fire.

I admit: I have had to get dirty and be not so nice from time to time when the situation called for it, when diplomacy failed, or when exigent circumstances required an immediate response. It's not one of my best moments, but it is necessary sometimes, depending on the crisis. But I still believe that people are people. And we must respect each other and treat each other fairly. It's important to stand up for what you believe in.

And while I don't always succeed in my efforts to be a better person, I still try every day to be the best that I can be. I still try to treat others with the same respect and courtesy and fairness that I would like to receive. Our actions have consequences. So let's act positively, and give the world hope. Life is more wonderful and the world is a much better place when we are kinder and nicer to each other.

2.  Entertainment

I love to be entertained. And I find entertainment from so many things. But I'm going to try to keep this short.

I love all sorts of entertainment: Plays, musicals, books, sports, movies, tv, music, dances, concerts, and so many other forms of art. I find entertainment in playing games, cooking, and even exploring and watching nature. Zoos, carnivals, and circuses are delightful. Sharing meals and social gatherings are entertaining.

Sometimes, just watching the clouds pass overhead, or the waves rolling in, and people going about their business is captivating. I find joy and entertainment from all sorts of activities and things. And that includes spotting out of state license plates on my travels, or trying to guess where folks are from based on their accents and actions.

But I don't like everything. I hate sad movies and sad endings. So if a book or film or story ends in tragedy, I don't care for it. It's why I'm not a fan of Romeo and Juliet--aside from the fact that she was 13 and having sex with an older teen, and how stupid and overly dramatic their reactions were, and just how stupid everyone acted in that story...But I digress.

My point is, I don't like sad endings. So if a movie or story has a tragic ending, I don't want to see it. When I see a movie or read a book or check out some production, it's because I want an escape. I want to see something that'll make me laugh, think, or stimulate my imagination or stir up excitement. Entertainment should bring me joy.

The world is all ready depressing enough. And entertainment is my way to escape from reality to find some joy. It is a way to remind myself of the good things and beauty still left in this world. So keep your sad films and tragic stories away from me. I'm not interested in them.

About the only other thing that I despise in entertainment is cliffhangers. I hate cliffhangers. It reeks of desperation. Either finish the damn story or don't bother telling it in the first place. Plenty of tv shows and movies use cliffhangers as a way to market and attract viewers. Unfortunately, most suck and are cancelled, or the sequel is never made, so the audience is left with an incomplete, unsatisfying story that has no resolution. Resolutions matter in storytelling! If there's no ending, then there's no story! And you've wasted my time and pissed me off!

3. Eros

I am a big fan of mythology. The first stories that I heard as a child were myths and legends about the world all around us, trying to explain natural and amazing phenomena in our environment. It was exciting, scary, and so intriguing to hear the ancient tales and to learn the lessons they taught.

I am enthralled with creation myths. And I enjoy learning about different peoples' beliefs and ideas about life, death, nature, and the universe. The similarities between various mythologies are just as compelling as the differences. Mythology is the portrayal of a people's culture and history, revealing what is sacred, significant, or has changed or remained the same over the passage of time.

Of all the creation myths that I've enjoyed discovering, the one that I like the most is the creation of the world by Eros. I'm talking about the first, ancient Eros, the one worshipped by the pre-Greek civilizations of the Minoans, then Mycenaeans thousands of years ago. Most people are familiar with the mischievous baby Eros, Roman Cupid, carrying a bow and shooting arrows of love. He was the last and youngest god created by the Greeks and Romans of antiquity. This later Greek Eros was a youth, then made into a child, then a baby, and later made youth again in Roman times.

The Greeks loved their myths with twists and tragic endings. Their stories were full of suffering and sorrow. Thankfully, the Romans crafted a wonderful story that became the last great myth from antiquity--the only myth of the Greco-Roman civilizations with a happy ending. This is the story of Eros and Psyche--the tale of love and the bond between the heart and soul. And this later Eros, paired with Psyche, was the reimagination and reinvention of the older, first, ancient Eros.

I'm fascinated with the original Eros, the primordial god, worshipped by the ancient Minoans and the succeeding Mycenaeans, thousands of years ago (2500-1100 BCE). This Eros comes from a time so ancient that stories of this mysterious, elder god are rare. But the few tales that survive reveal the utmost importance of Eros, and how essential Eros was in the creation of the world:

In the beginning, there was nothing but the Void. And in this Void came into being Chaos, Gaia (Earth), Tartarus (Underworld), and Eros (Love).

In the darkness and emptiness of the Void, golden winged Eros, fairest of all, created the World Egg and hatched it in his embrace. And with the World Egg, he created light, the heavens, the stars, the planets, the seas, and life. And from the World Egg, he brought forth humanity. Before there were gods, he created humans. Humans are imbued with the divine power of love. Eros created order out of chaos, brought together the forces that made the universe exist. And from Eros, all creation was made possible, all life began.

I love this idea: The universe was born of love. Love created the universe. Love created life. Humanity was born of love, and humanity needs love to survive and to thrive. Life needs love. Love is the universal force that binds us all to each other, to the stars, to time and beyond. The universe was made out of love. Humanity was created and nurtured by love. Love is life. And life is love.

4. Eggs

I love cooked eggs. My two favorite sandwiches of all time are the fried egg sandwich and the egg salad sandwich. My mother used to make them both for us when we were growing up. I was a picky eater as a small child. I didn't like a lot of food. But I loved the fried egg and egg salad sandwiches. They were tasty treats.

Every time I eat a fried egg or egg salad sandwich, I feel happy and comforted. I'm immediately transported back home on the farm; I'm a small child again, sitting next to my two closest brothers, smiling, laughing, surrounded by my family and loved ones; and it's a wonderful, fantastic day on the farm. To this day, my two closest brothers and I still love the fried egg and egg salad sandwiches. And we've passed on this love to the younger generations, who enjoy eating these delectable sandwiches and hearing stories about Mom.

I also love the egg in a potato salad. And to me, a potato salad is just an egg salad sandwich, where the baked potato has replaced the bread. There are many recipes for potato salad. But my fave is the simplest--baked potatoes diced, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dollop of butter, mixed with egg salad--boiled egg diced, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dollop of mayo. It's best to mix all the ingredients while the diced potatoes are still hot or warm--that's what melds all the flavors together beautifully, creating an ambrosial taste.

I love cooked eggs--as custard, when scrambled, fried hard, or baked. Eggs add that lovely golden color and rich flavor in cakes, breads, and pies. I savor a sliced hard boiled egg with my ramen noodles. Flans, soufflés, and ice cream are some of the most decadent treats made with eggs. Cooked eggs are great.

But I don't like raw, uncooked, over easy, runny eggs. It's a safety and texture issue for me. Eating raw eggs is just asking for salmonella--might as well pucker up and kiss a chicken's butt! And the runny consistency makes me think of the egg emerging from the chicken's cloaca. Gross. I don't want to be reminded that I'm eating a chicken's period. Blah!

However, I admit that there are two very rare exceptions when I do eat raw eggs: That's in a Caesar salad and in mayo. Yes, there are some great, manufactured, bottled sauces out there, and I buy them a lot to use on my food. But every now and then, I'll go to a fancy restaurant, where they actually make real Caesar dressing or real mayo, using raw eggs. It's a risk, but it's one that I choose to take, especially for outstanding, delectable food prepared by an excellent, quality restaurant. Eggs are great, especially when they are prepared right.

5. Earth

I love the Earth. It is our only home, and it's an amazing and marvelous world, full of wonders.


It's also the only place that supports life as we know it. So we need to take better care of it and respect it. This is our planet. It is the one and only place where we can live in the entire universe. We don't have any other choices or alternatives.

The problem is that people don't value our planet nor appreciate the precarious position we are in. It doesn't matter whether you believe in climate change or not. Our actions have changed the world. And the changing world doesn't care about us. Life will go on, but it won't necessarily include human life. Just look at the many species who've gone extinct from changing climates and natural disasters.

The only species who cares about us is us! And if we don't care about the world, we doom ourselves to extinction. There is no other place where we can escape to. There is only one Earth in the entire universe. And it's a special, unique, and precious world. If we ruin this planet, we destroy ourselves. So take care of the Earth, because it's the only planet we have. It's our only home, and we need to take better care of it if we want to continue to live in it. Every day is Earth Day, because every day, the Earth is our home.

And that's my list of five favorite things that begin with the letter E. I hope you found it Engaging. I admit that coming up with this list was both Exhausting and Enjoyable. And now, I'm just Exhilarated that it's reached the End.

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What you C is what you get, the beginning.
What you C is what you get, the middle.
What you C is what you get