As the title of a post, I don’t suppose it is all that bad, but as the lingering remnant of a significant dream, I admit, it seemed a bit odd, even to me. But that was the phrase that awoke me this morning, and wandered around my head fully developed and with what appeared to be a perfectly logical idea behind it. Trying to hang on to that idea through rush-hour traffic, the day’s work and all the usual humdrum hassle proved a little difficult.
The trouble is, that once these things are planted in your mind, they are akin to earworms that keep on nagging at your attention. The only way to exorcise them is to explore them.
The one thing I remember with absolute clarity is that ‘my life as a milkshake’ was to be the title of a blog post. So I sit down to write… without the slightest idea of what I am supposed to be writing and no recollection at all of this ‘brilliant analogy’ that had been dumped into my sleeping consciousness.
The only thing I can do is explore the image suggested by the title, in much the same way as we deconstruct myths, legends and symbols to dscern their inner meaning… and hope that some modicum of sense can be made of it.
For a start, the image with which I awoke was not some deliciously fresh-fruited beverage but a plain, common-or-garden strawberry milkshake… made with simple ingredients and plain, frothy milk. With a straw. I was glad it was strawberry though… they are my favourite.
So, ‘my life as a milkshake’ must begin in simplicity, with the most basic ingredients. We are of the stuff of earth, after all, nothing special, nothing exclusive… though life as we know it may well have begun in the stars. Milk is the first nourishment of mammalian life, the simplest, most perfect aliment for a newborn child. And our galaxy, the one that contains our own solar system, is the Milky Way. As we raise our eyes to the heavens seeking their light, both physically and spiritually, that works too. Looked at symbolically, the milk alone contains images of both earthly life and its spiritual counterpart.
But you cannot serve a milkshake without a glass… a transparent vessel designed solely to contain and give shape to what is placed within it. So far so good… the physical body as the glass, holding the life of earth and beyond…
Milk, on its own, is fairly bland…a culinary blank canvas. Life without experience, good or bad, would be the same. A shake is always flavoured…with any one or a combination of fruits, cordials, chocalates…or, well, just about anything. There seems to be an infinite variety when you start looking and, just to make them even more unique, you can use different types of milk, add ice or ice-cream, cream and marshmallows… and every one will be different. No two will contain exactly the same amounts of everything, or be the same temperature, or be shaken quite the same. There are endless possibilities and variations… yet they are all milkshakes.
Rather like people.
The same could be said of the types of ingredient too… some are natural and healthy…good for you… whilst others are crammed with synthetics and are so processed that they seem very far from nature and could be pretty unhealthy in the long run. Sometimes it is hard to tell which is which and those that promise the best experience may be the worst for you. Just as people and events may turn out to have a deeper value than the experience suggests… or more superficial and shallow than they at first appear to be.
If you leave a milkshake standing for long enough, the ingredients begin to separate. First, the froth will go, leaving the drink flat and uninteresting. Sugars may fall to the bottom and crystallise, robbing the drink of its sweetness. Leave a shake untasted for even longer and the milk may curdle, rendering it undrinkable and it will be wasted. Some things have to be drunk when fresh, or the ‘best bits’ will remain untasted in the empty glass, or worse… the delights the glass held will never be enjoyed at all. We can wait too long to drink the cup we are given… or leave it too long for health or joy.
The best bit of a milkshake, though, is the last… the bit that is slurped with abandon… noisily, joyously, unselfconsciously through a straw. No matter how old you are, you are always a child when you do that. Milkshakes, regardless of your current age, are a child’s drink and memories will always come back and their images arise in your mind, joining both ends of life with an unbroken thread.
I could go on, but I think that justifies life as a milkshake well enough. Except for one small point… if I am a milkshake, who is the drinker of my life? Perhaps the inner child, the soul-child, is on the other end of the straw, drinking in the experiences that are held in my glass. When we reach the final dregs, I hope there is mischief enough left for a loud slurp.