It’s only a store brand, but still. Maybe like me you remember opening a box of Raisin Bran and pouring out the first bowl. And finding only bran. Maybe a raisin or two. By the time you munched your way to the bottom of the box you’d get a bonanza in that last bowlful. It was more fruit than cereal. Then they somehow figured out how to suspend raisins so that didn’t happen. My mind hasn’t caught up yet, I guess. I was down to the last bowl, and I was eagerly anticipating it. Especially since the day before I’d only had three raisins and it was clear that the end was near. Then the last bowl. One raisin. That’s a lot of bran to start your day, like C. S. Lewis’ always winter but never Christmas in Narnia.
Speaking strictly for myself, I like to save the best for last. When I receive snacks in my Christmas stocking, I keep my favorites until all the others are gone. In my personal myth of scarcity I’m quite aware that good things run out. And they’re not always easily replaced. Therefore I tend not to buy the things I like best. This is the kind of psychology that drives economists mad. As a child I was taught to put others’ needs before my own and that lesson has dovetailed with the running out of good things. Of such things monasticism was made. The raisins are now near the top of the box, but the crumbs are still on the bottom.
I often find breakfast to be the most philosophical of meals. Perhaps it’s because I write my blog posts in the early morning. Perhaps it’s because others are awake when I eat lunch and supper. Perhaps it’s because that valuable things are rare. It’s the nature of what we find most meaningful. We live in a culture of largeness and acquisition. What we truly want, however, may be very small indeed. Ours is a culture of choice and plentifulness. Raisin Bran is a choice, as is the store brand. And it’s even possible to open the box at the bottom and return to my old form of expectation. I doubt I will ever outgrow the idea, however, of trying to save the best for later. It’s a form of optimism, after all. And isn’t it best to start the day with the knowledge that better things are coming?