[Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]
I love pizza. And I eat lots of it. Now, for the first time in my life, I’m worried that my love of pizza is bad for me. I read some pretty shocking health food articles that focused on eating only natural food, and some of my friends have started giving me a hard time, basically saying that pizza isn’t “real food.” They say it’s poisonous junk that is slowly killing me. They say I should live a more healthy and natural life. That my way of eating isn’t part of an “authentic” lifestyle. I’m not severely overweight, and I’m a pretty active and happy person, but now whenever I eat pizza I feel kind of depressed. I know you love pizza as much as I do. How do I keep my love affair with pizza going but also live a good and natural life?
Thanks for your help,
Pondering A Pizza-Less Life
Dear Pondering A Pizza-Less Life,
Pizza is a state of mind. Pizza is way of looking at the world. Pizza is part of a true belief that we as humans can create our own sources of true joy. And the joy that pizza brings is real and tangible. Happiness, from pizza or any number of things, is authentically crucial to our survival and well being, just as much as water or air. Pizza is more than just food; it’s a genuine physical and spiritual pleasure. Anyone who says that money cannot buy happiness has clearly never spent their money on pizza. These are not exaggerations — these are sincere recognitions of the value pizza has to us as a reliable source of joy.
Just like music isn’t just sound, pizza isn’t just flour and tomato sauce and cheese. It’s a phenomenon with deep meaning for us. Pizza is an invention on the same level as the invention of electric guitar. What makes humanity great is that we can go beyond nature and still have it be a part of our nature — our natural ability to make new things is a natural part of what makes us supernatural beings.
The same people who say pizza is bad because it’s not “natural” could also say electric guitar is bad because it didn’t naturally fall from the sky in one piece. Sometimes things are valuable specifically because we came up with them and put them together on our own. The fact that they didn’t occur in the natural world is part of their beauty — they’re amazing because we brought them into being from our own natural existence. And we are a natural extension of nature.
As with so many sources of joy, there will be people who specifically lash out at the areas of life that others hold dear. Some people get a twisted sort of joy in systematically abusing and degrading the joys of other people. It’s not so much that they want to convince you pizza is bad; they want to convince you that you’re bad for loving it, and that they’re truly healthier, smarter, and all around better people for eating differently or having a different lifestyle. It’s not enough to just do what they enjoy, they have to take others down in the process.
It’s healthier to be truly happy than it is to painfully censor yourself and your passions. We can die at any time from anything. And would it really have been better to have spent those precious years without the natural happiness of something like pizza? The world is an intense and overwhelming place and we create things like pizza so that being in the world can feel a little less harsh.
No amount of effort to eat well, exercise more, or eliminate all “bad things” can ever fully abolish the anxiety of being alive. Learning to love what makes life truly lovable is a much better use of our time, rather than trying to edit away everything we’ve worked so hard to create.
Besides, when you love something with all your heart, like the way you love pizza, it becomes an inseparable part of your being — it’s always with you, even when it’s not directly in front of you. Just like you don’t have to own an original Picasso in order to love his painting. You don’t have to be visited by Santa Claus every day in order to have a close connection to him. You don’t even have to see your best friends every day in order for them to still be a huge part of your life.
Similarly, you don’t have to eat pizza at every meal for it to still bring you huge amounts of ongoing happiness. Just thinking of a song can fill your head with stimulating music, and just thinking of a pizza can fill your soul with satiating joy.
You know where true wellness comes from? It doesn’t come from taking certain vitamins and only eating certain “natural” foods, and focusing on an “authentic” and “organic” life. True wellness comes from loving the experience of being alive with all your might and giving yourself the chance to experience as much true joy as you can before you die. And if pizza brings you joy, then by all means, love that pizza like your life depends on it. Because it does. You really can die from a broken heart. Don’t break up with pizza.
More:Ask Andrew W.K.