Is life a bowl of cherries?
It depends on what you think the bowl of cherries represents.
I think most people assume it represents pleasure and fun and ease, bringing a life that, as Paul Simon wrote in a song, “rolls easy as a breeze, drifting through a summer night, heading for a sunny day.” But Simon’s song makes the counterpoint: “Most folks’ lives, they stumble, Lord they fall, through no fault of their own.” I think that most of us identify with the stumble far more than the breeze, even if we can look back and say that we’ve done all right. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes certainly illustrates many ways that life is, by its nature, hard and unfair and, in the end, meaningless.
But what if the bowl of cherries instead represents the good things we sometimes get, gifts of temporary pleasure that we get to enjoy while they last? Cherries are sweet while fresh, but even if you refrigerate them, soon enough they shrivel up and grow moldy. So it is with all of life’s gifts – and there are such gifts, even for one whose life is mostly about stumbling. Ecclesiastes also tells us over and over that while we’re here we get many good gifts – food and drink, our work, our spouses, our possessions – and we should enjoy them while we have them. I think the Depression-era lyricist understood this when he wrote:
Life is just a bowl of cherries.
Don’t take it serious; life’s so mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can’t take your dough when you go, go, go.
So keep repeating it’s the berries,
The strongest oak must fall,
The sweet things in life, to you were just loaned
So how can you lose what you’ve never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all.