Why Can’t I Have my Cake and Eat it Too?

I have never been able to understand the expression “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”  It doesn’t make sense to me, and I always end up thinking “Why can’t I?”  Although it may mean that you cannot have your cake intact or whole and eat it at the same time, referring to wanting the best of two worlds or wanting more than you can handle, or even having it both ways, a popular phrase, I still think that it is possible to have your cake and eat it too.  It is all on the approach to whatever “the cake” means to you.

The way I see it, when we practice mindfulness, we can have the cake and eat it, one bite/moment at a time, and that makes a huge difference.  When we multitask or want it all at once, the expression might make sense; however, when we learn to enjoy every bite, as tiny as it may be, we are able to savor the cake while appreciating it at the same time.  Picture a whole delicious cake (your favorite), and take a whole chunk out of it, or many at once, it is not whole anymore, it doesn’t resemble the original cake.  Now, take the same cake and with a spoon or fork, pick up a bit of frosting or ganache, and dig a little deep deeper, enjoying every bite.  Now, look at it, it still resembles the original cake.  You are having your cake and you are eating it too, one delicious small bite at a time, minding every bite.  Apply this to life, the cake representing your dream or goal.

The above metaphor tells you that without celebrating the journey, things may feel a bit incomplete or hollow.  I realized this later in life because I always thought that I was supposed to celebrate when I reached the pinnacle.  It is what I was taught in school and how I was socialized – the journey doesn’t count.  It is how most of us are raised and socialized.  The way I see it now, without the journey and the celebration of it, the last stop, the pinnacle, may seem a bit empty once I arrive.  I also know that the pinnacle is only one part of the whole journey.

We have a choice; we can rush eating the cake or we can eat it slowly and enjoy every bite while still seeing the big picture.  Many times the journey is what makes the destination worthwhile.

4 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Have my Cake and Eat it Too?

  1. It’s funny you should write about that. Only today my fiancé was telling me that it should be, “You can’t eat your cake and have it too”, because of course you can eat the cake if you have it, but if you ate it you can’t have it since it’d be already gone. xD

  2. Thanks for challenging yet another time honored and nonsensical expression. Often times I think what is being said is, “you can’t have it all” or “both ways.” Nevertheless, if does this mean you can eat your cake without having it? Sounds cool to me. Either way it’s mine.

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