This past week my family and I were in New York City for the wedding of one of my sisters. I was raised in the NYC neighborhood of Astoria and Ashley and I spent a very happy first year of marriage there as we did our best to serve the wonderful people of Open Door Bible Baptist Church.
While living in the “Big Apple” was certainly challenging at times, it also provided many unique opportunities. Having so many people, from so many different cultures, in a relatively small space produces an almost overwhelming variety of eating establishments—far too many to try on one salary or even in one lifetime. Yet, in the midst of such variety, there was one treat that we revisited frequently during the time we lived there. High on our “bucket list” for our recent trip was the chance to once again a genuine, honest-to-goodness New York City cannoli (see picture).
The bakeries that we frequented typically offered two cannoli varieties. While the delicious filling remained the same, the pastry shell could be ordered either plain or covered in chocolate. Perhaps predictably, we always, at least as far as I can recall, used to order the chocolate covered shells. After all, we reasoned, how could dipping a dessert in chocolate do anything to a cannoli but make it even better?
This time we tried both—with surprising results. The filling was just as good as we remembered but we found that upon making the comparison we both actually liked the “plain” cannolis better. The chocolate dipping, instead of adding something extra, in reality took away from the overall experience by changing the texture of the shell and overpowering the delicate tastes of the filling. As much as I like chocolate I had to admit that, at least in our opinion, the dessert was better off without it.
As I reflected on this newfound, though relatively trivial, realization, I began to see that it could provide a window onto a far greater reality. So many times in life we think that the greatest fulfillment comes through filling our lives with as many “good things” as possible. As long as a possession or experience is good in and of itself, it is all too easy to think that adding it to our lives cannot but add to our prosperity and well-being. In every area of life, we are constantly being pressured to add more things and more experiences, more of this and more of that.
Yet what we must remember is that we cannot accurately assess the value of our lives simply by creating a giant sum of all the “good things” we have added to them. Proving that something is “good” doesn’t necessarily mean that adding it will make our lives “better.” Sometimes you really can have so many good things going on that you can’t properly enjoy the full benefit of any one them. More can sometimes be less.
The next time you are considering adding something—a new technology, a second job, the latest gadget or whatever else, take the time to think about the impact that the new “good thing” you are thinking of adding could have on the good that you already have. Additions, no matter how good they may be in and of themselves, are not always improvements, in bakeries or in life. Sometimes less really can be more.