This I Believe

Nathan - Orem, Utah
Entered on May 23, 2007

The Gouda Life

I paid little attention to the buzz of downtown Barcelona around me as I silently sat staring at the foreign object before me. It had a pale yellow color, and felt waxy to the touch. Most noticeable of all was the pungent smell that overwhelmed my nostrils in an intense way. It was smoked gouda. Dad had picked it up somewhere along the journey through town, while I had been watching the famous “statue mimes” who line the streets of the Spanish port city. Now, however, he had managed to capture my interest, delicately carving the small block into thin slices to go along with the fresh baguette warming my cool fingers. My stomach growled, but my senses kept me from digging in.

This cheese was different. Almost everything about it was odd to me, and I had never heard of “smoked cheese” in my entire life-it almost sounded…absurd. But, as I watched Dad set down his knife, pick up a slice, and stick it in his mouth, eyes rolling back into his head in that obvious exaggeration of pure pleasure, I decided I’d give it a try.

It was sharp, in a satisfying way. The smoky flavor catapulted my unsuspecting taste buds into an excited frenzy, as the cheese slowly began to melt away. But, even as the cheese disappeared, the aftertaste still grasped tightly to my tongue.

I loved it.

That was two years ago, but I still remember that evening because it awakened a sense of adventure in my life and tasting gouda became the ensign of that awakening. That’s why I believe in smoked gouda.

Like my own adventurous life, smoked gouda is inherently special when compared with other foods. The potent smell is singular, not quite like the aroma of other cheeses in the dairy family. It’s singular, like me. The initial blast of intense flavor evokes the esoteric complexities that disrupt my nirvana and actually make life interesting. And that final aftertaste that gently fades away is the reward for sticking with wise decisions.

After all, I am on a journey through life and am faced with hundreds of decisions to make each and every day.

In fact, all of mankind is on a journey through life, with trillions of available paths, each leading to a unique door of opportunity. As I travel along various paths, I experience the challenges that make my life uniquely beautiful. Like that exclusive evening in Barcelona eating the unfamiliar cheese, I often find myself in situations whose consequences turn out for the better or the worse depending on my choices. And life becomes a constant adventure.

That adventure will never end unless I give up on myself, whether it be for reasons of fatigue or simple abdication from the challenges of everyday life. But, I can never give up because I never know what the pale yellow rising sun of tomorrow will bring. Pale yellow like my smoked gouda.

That’s why I believe in smoked gouda.