The Effect of Expiration Dates

I’m supposed to be in my kitchen, cleaning up the remnants of last night’s dinner but instead I’m in my office, writing to you. Now, I’m not one to love cleaning, as the near constant state of my house can attest as well as the fact that here I am, at 11:15 am cleaning up last night’s dishes. But it isn ‘t procrastination that stopped my cleaning and started my blogging.

It was a bag of coffee.

I’m not terribly efficient as a cleaner, suffering as I do from an extreme case of the Squirrel!, but I do typically manage to mostly finish one task before starting another. However, in my kitchen, it makes a sort of sense to be putting away things while emptying the dishwasher. It’s a sort of clearing the decks so I can find all the hiding utensils and such things. Anyhoodle, I was putting away some coffee cups and needed to move some coffee pods that had toppled out of the coffee pod basket and onto the twirling gizmo where I store my coffee cups. I’m sure you’re envisioning a super organized kitchen cupboard right about now.

Looking into the open bag, I figured I could just combine the “organic with love for you” coffee pods with the “will sprout hair on your back and get you going in the morning!” pods without too much disrepair. Now mind you, I just purchased these nifty organic coffee pods on Saturday, mostly because they were on sale and I also had a coupon and we all know that I am a money saving machine (mostly stuck in neutral, alas). When I folded up the bag to toss it into my landfill receptacle, I noticed that the “Best By” date is only a few weeks away.

Now, seeing as how I drink coffee like it is my true mother’s milk, it isn’t much of a concern that any of those loving organic coffee pods will still be in my home by the 18th of February. But it got me thinking about expiration dates, aka “best by”, “use by” and all the other notifications of the end of a product’s lifetime.

It doesn’t hurt that I just dealt with the “dispose of by date” situation with Littlest’s booster seat. (He was born in 2006. I purchased the “will fit a small child until they go to their senior prom” 3-way seat in 2007 thinking it would get us well-past the height/weight/age requirements for booster seats. Never thought to check the “dispose of by” date on the damn thing. I was too excited to see it was on sale. The damn thing has been out of date since 040108. As in nearly six years ago. *sigh*)

Everything has a “sale by” date. Always has. It’s just that now it gets stamped on some part of the packaging or product and we, the almighty consumer, can best plan our consumption around those six-to-eight digits.


Now, sometimes we are not gobsmacked by a sale-by date surprise. Sometimes we see something is nearing its posted date and it’s such a great deal that we change our menu, plan, etc. for it. That pint of whipping cream I recently purchased and then turned into a fabulous meal comes to mind. A soon-to-expire coupon for a fancy restaurant is another example I know too well. We know the end is coming so we stop putting off doing something and just do it already.

What would you do if you had a expiration date? Or if your loved one does? Would you live bigger? Love more extravagantly? Would you take that vacation to Bali you’ve always schemed about or would you close the door, make popcorn and a pillow fort and spend every second making new memories with that person?

I think we’d live better if we really, truly knew the limitations of our lives. We would be reminded that it isn’t what comes next for us that matters nearly as much as what is happening right this moment. We would stop regretting the yesterdays and hoping for the tomorrows and we’d just embrace our today.

For today, or for as long as I remember, I’m going to try to live as if I knew how many days I have here. And I’m going to make the very best of each and every one of them. Because, I really do have an expiration date. It just isn’t stamped on my bag.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make myself a cup of organic coffee and I’m going to enjoy every damn sip of that coffee.

3 thoughts on “The Effect of Expiration Dates

  1. That is a good thing to remember. I always likes Castaneda’s take on it: Your Death, not just death, but your death, is always there, just over your left shoulder, there with you every moment, waiting, but for how long (and he was very specific – it’s the left)

    Thanks for this, Kristina

  2. It can go both ways, though. I could let go of a lot of — let’s face it, housework and other petty parenting concerns in the face of Kid2’s very serious illness. But my grandfather became quite unglued by the more concrete signs of mortality. Anything that took any time at all became a total crapshoot, a fool’s errand. “I might not even be here by Wednesday.” “How about I come by if you are, then.” You know, if I’m around either. So once again, we need balance. (Maybe I’ll have some of that coffee with you!)

  3. As I just celebrated my 70th birthday (very aware that my father died at the age of 43), I think about my expire date quite a bit. I call my self an “ethical nihilist” because I don’t believe in God and never have. I think the stunning universe is an accident, and our existence in this very obscure little solar system is an accident. We are simply evolved animals with complex brains. We are on our own, and have to make the best we can of our lives.

Comments are closed.