Ask Yourself This: Are You a Depriver or an Indulger? And Why Does it Matter?

Pomelo blossoms. Next invention? An aromaphoto, so that you could smell that heavenly aroma.

Pomelo blossoms. Next invention? An aromaphoto, so that you could smell that heavenly aroma.

Are you an indulger or a depriver?

I could come up with a list of questions to help you determine if you indulge yourself or deprive yourself. But this one will do: If you have, oh, let’s say, an hour or two, do you indulge yourself with a simple pleasure – taking a walk, reading on the couch, meeting a friend for coffee – or do you remind yourself of all you need to do and get to work doing it?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate myself a 7 as a depriver. I am my own meanest boss. I’d rather be writing than doing just about most things. Or reading. (In that order.)

But I decided that I also need to indulge myself because the essence of life, the very life of life, is made up of those moments when we’re doing the fun stuff. That’s what we remember. Not all those hours we were working.

That’s what happens when a goody-goody grows up.

Now I’m letting the tomboy in me have more fun. Which is why I spent part of my free time photographing the blossoms on our pomelo tree. How many of you have tasted a pomelo? It’s a citrus maxima, a citrus fruit, that looks like a bell-shaped grapefruit. But it’s not as juicy and not as sour. Peeling it and eating it like an orange is occupational therapy because it requires a bit of manual dexterity. A low-calorie way to keep your hands busy.

We had one pomelo on our tree last year. This year we have a lot of blossoms but there’s a hamsin brewing – that the wind that sweeps up from the desert – which will probably blow off all the blossoms.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I often write the blogs I want to read. The message for today is:

We must commit ourselves to our work, even if nobody around us understands what we’re doing. We must, as Flannery O’Connor said, wrote in a letter to her friend Cecil Dawkins:
“I’m a full-time believer in writing habits, pedestrian as it all may sound. You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away. I see it happen all the time. Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place. This doesn’t mean I produce much out of the two hours. Sometimes I work for months and have to throw everything away, but I don’t think any of that was time wasted. Something goes on that makes it easier when it does come well.”

So, we need to sit there and do the work. But then we must also give ourselves time to play, to dream, to look at the blue swath of sky, to smell the aroma of a pomelo blossom before it gets blown away.

It is hard to find the balance but both work and play keep the blues away. We can skip the TV shows that are junk food for the brain and do something fun that we will really nourish our souls. And we can do the work even if we do it badly. Because we only get one chance at life so we better do it right.

What do you think? Are you an indulger or a depriver? Have you ever tried to inch down the scale and become the other? And do you have any writing habits that work for you?

If you have nothing to do and feel like a split deprive/indulge time (first you have to bake, which to me is deprivation, then you get to snack — a definite indulgence) check out this recipe for pomelo citrus bars.

I am allergic to cats but I had to add this photo. Hope it makes you crack a smile.

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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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11 Responses to Ask Yourself This: Are You a Depriver or an Indulger? And Why Does it Matter?

  1. Tori J. says:

    I’d say I’m probably a 3. I indulge more than deprive, and have a bad habit of doing it way too often. I’m a procrastinator. XD

    • dianabletter says:

      You’re right – procrastinating falls into the indulger category. I sometimes procrastinate and then tell myself I’ll indulge after. Thanks for writing!

  2. I consistently fail in the indulge-r part. Sigh.

  3. Depending on the work/projects that need to be done and the options that are available to do instead, I’d have to say that I’m usually about 50/50. If the project is important to me and I have a clear vision of it and want to get back to it, then I jump right in. If it’s a chore that awaits, I’m more likely to go and do something else.

    • dianabletter says:

      Oh, I hear you, Marylin! If I have to do any kind of cleaning, then I definitely indulge myself in not doing it! It’s good you’ve found a 50/50 balance. Thanks for writing!

  4. I’d like to say I’m 50/50 like Marylin, but in all honesty, I’m a depriver. Need to work on that. Super post, Diana. 🙂

    • dianabletter says:

      A depriver, huh? I would not have suspected that, Tracy. Let me know what you do today to indulge yourself in a simple pleasure!

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