Nov 15, 2017–As Thanksgiving brings its predictable menu of comfort food, dispensed in your family tradition, I started thinking about how as we grow older we tend to seek out stronger flavors.

The pungency of goat cheese and truffles.

The tang of red wine and black coffee.

The picante of peppers.

I used to speculate it was due to taste buds dulled by decades of use, yearning for sharper tastes to make them perk up.

But now I believe it has more to do with our need to stay engaged with the world.

One phenomenon of being an adult no one told me about is that if you are not careful, routine trumps novelty. Everything you do, see, or experience has happened before. Sometimes thousands of times, like eating breakfast or shaving.

It’s like driving cross country. At first it is exciting as you roll down the road. But by the 1845th mile you no longer notice the waves of grain or purple mountains majesty. It’s all a blur broken by bathroom breaks.

Life is fast forwarding on a VCR. So fast that half the people reading this won’t understand that reference.

Special occasions have a harder time being special. You have attended hundreds of graduations, weddings, and funerals. After decades of Jingle Bells, you no longer care what’s up on the rooftop or who mommy was kissing.

And that’s why we worship kids. No one engages in life like a child. No grownup gets so excited about that first lick of an ice cream cone, making a plaster cast of their hand, or just standing in the lawn sprinkler. Our senses have become dulled by repeated stimulations. Even our sense of imagination grows flaccid when flogged by daily routine.

It takes a strong experience to disrupt this background noise.

Maybe that’s why octogenarians decide to leap out of airplanes, marry their high school sweetheart, and boat the Volga.

At least, the interesting people do.

Doing otherwise is a long, slow walk to the grave.

So squirm, squeeze, and wiggle a bit. Engage.

Eat the ice cream and smell the cheese.