The keys to the universe lie within a simple chocolate bar! I realize that this revelation may alter the course of accepted western philosophy, but I am compelled to share my epiphany with the world. I can only hope that I do not shake the foundations of multiple time-honored universal belief systems.
The early years of my life were profoundly influenced by the cinema. In an attempt to escape the awkwardness of adolescence, I retreated to the alluring make-believe world created by the Hollywood studios. I drove my parents crazy, repeatedly reciting the lyrics of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; all of the words hopelessly off-key! I aspired to a career as a chimney sweep and demanded that my friends jump into chalk drawings with me. However, it was Willy Wonka that became the enduring hallmark of my childhood!
As we all know, Willy wished to leave the high pressure world of the confectionary CEO. He decided that only a child could run his enterprise in the way he desired. Mr. Wonka set-up a lottery system by which five children were “randomly selected” to compete for the honor of steering the Wonka Chocolate corporate juggernaut.
Over the remaining course of the movie, Willy puts the five finalists through a series of tests; all designed to reveal inherent character flaws. In his own naive manner, Charlie manages to pass each test. It is not so much that his character is that well-formed, as it is that Charlie possesses an innocence and joy that can only be found in untainted youth.
The story comes to a close as Willy accuses Charlie of having violated the terms of the test. Charlie admits that he indeed broke one of the rules. We have the classic cinematic showdown and Mr. Wonka explains to Charlie that he has passed the test. As a reward, Charlie is granted the keys to the chocolate factory. The rest is sweet tooth history,
How many of us pass our days looking for that elusive golden ticket? Do we unwrap the chocolate bars that life gives us, only to be disappointed by the lack of an opportunity to somehow magically change our lives? Many of us do not even bother to taste the chocolate bar, throwing it aside as just another loser. The desire to get the golden ticket obscures the fact that chocolate was meant to be tasted, meant to be enjoyed.
Our lives are filled with a vast variety of chocolate bars. Sometimes they are simple squares of sweetened cocoa; other times we find nougat in the middle or nuts tucked away inside, like treasure chests waiting to be opened. Then there are a multitude of chocolate varieties; dark, bittersweet, milk, and white to name a few! Some chocolate bars are crisp and fresh, while others have started to melt away or turn white and flakey with age.
Do you take the time to enjoy the chocolate? Do you crunch slowly on the nuts or nougat? Do you swirl the confection around in your mouth, taking in the complexity of all the carefully blended flavors? Are you in such a rush to move onto the next chocolate bar that you cannot even remember the nuances of the candy you just ate?
Going back to the story of Willy Wonka, all of us are looking for that golden ticket. We believe steadfastly that there is an event or a situation or a person that will alter the course of our current lives. This entity or occurrence will do away with all that is wrong in our existence. Our every wish will come true and all we have to do is be lucky enough to find the golden piece of foiled paper.
To discover whether or not we have won, we have to unwrap many candy bars. Due to our blind obsession, we forget about the chocolate altogether. The candy becomes secondary to our quest. Most do not realize that the chocolate itself is the reward. The candy bar is another event, situation, or person in our life.
The majority of the time it will not come enveloped in a golden ticket, but it is an opportunity to grow. Take the time to draw in its aroma, taste the ingredients that have been blended together, relish the nuts or nougat that came with it. If you are not careful, you may discover that the chocolate is more satisfying than the promise of the golden ticket. In short, reaching the destination is not as important as enjoying the journey.
Just before the credits begin to roll in my favorite childhood movie, Charlie finds himself on the “Wonkavator.” Willie Wonka asks, “Charlie, did you hear the one about the man who suddenly got everything he ever asked for?” Charlie shakes his head, indicating a no answer. “He lived happily ever after!” Mr. Wonka exclaims. So, care to join me in the chocolate factory?