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The Power of Cake

I’ve learned a lot of odd things on my travels to art shows.

Many years ago I tried the Bella Vista Art Show in Bella Vista Arkansas. It’s a big show and there was an option to put up your display in a huge tent that housed many artists. Tired of rainy shows and thinking this would save me from having to worry about rain, I opted for that. Bad idea. It did indeed rain very hard and the big tent leaked, right above my booth! Organizers helped me drape a sheet of plastic across the top of my booth but pretty soon it filled up with water and I had to poke a hole in it to let the water slowly pour out. The rain was a trial all weekend long.

Needless to say, that show did not make my list of top five or top ten shows, or even my list of Shows To Try Again. But that show was memorable for another reason.

The gal that helped me out told me something I’ve never forgotten. She was going through a rough time, maybe a divorce. I can’t quite remember. A friend came to her house with a whole cake and a sheet of plastic. He spread the plastic out on her floor, put the cake in the middle, and asked her to eat it without using her hands. Well! You cannot do that without getting cake and icing all over your face. And feeling silly. I imagine it would be something like a one-person pie fight. And it really did cheer her up and help her turn a corner. She said he did this regularly for any friend who was going through a rough patch.

I thought the idea was grand! I’ve even thought I’d like to do it myself, just for fun. I do love cake. But you can see, can’t you, that planting your face in a cake might very easily flip a switch in your brain? Might give you a new perspective. Might shake up the glum mood you’ve been wrapped up in. And it would be less messy than a pie fight.

I love the creativity of this, too. It definitely conveys love and affection, as when we bring sweets to people who are hurting. But then there’s the aspect of play. Lovely! Takes you back to your first birthday, when parents set a cake down in front of you and let you do what you wanted with it. At least, that’s what I did with my kids. So you’re transported back to that innocent time when you never worried about getting food on your face or about conducting yourself properly at the table. You didn’t think about how much you weighed or that you might get fat if you ate even a tiny slice of cake. You didn’t care about looking silly or uncool or unsophisticated or any of those things we worry about as adults. Your inner child is a messy, joyful little thing. Why not embrace some of that, with paint, dirt, clay–or cake?

“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” – Brian Sutton-Smith

“A party without a cake is just a meeting.” – Julia Child

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Never underestimate the healing power of cake.” – Kay Foley!

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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