Post #80: Plateful

IMG_3427It was, perhaps, the greatest deal ever. And no one—and I mean no one—loved a deal better than my Dad. Pie and potato salad, jello and spaghetti, french fries and fried chicken. More and more and more. Every favorite food, as much as we wanted, piled high to the sky? How could we not love it too?

The All You Can Eat Cafeteria Buffet at Cedar Point! Five dollars per person per plate. The bills almost flew from my Dad’s silver money clip. The line was long but who cared? We fell in step, it was worth the waiting for what was sure to be the best—oh really the very best— dinner of our whole lives. Can you imagine?

Crowd control for the rides was the same crowd control at The All You Can Eat Buffet. We were squeezed single file into line with metal barricades. No turning back, but who wanted to? We pushed forward slowly, with tiny shuffling steps. Almost there!

Although the trays made perfect shields, jousting with the butter knives was frowned upon. Would we ever get to the food?

And at last we did. There it was, all within reach, cherry pie, apple pie, peach pie and Lemon meringue! Chocolate cake, cheesecake, strawberry shortcake! Butterscotch pudding and fudge ripple ice cream! Meatballs and macaroni, corn dogs and cole slaw, baked beans and beef stroganoff, mashed potatoes and waffles. Everything we loved, as much as we wanted, everything we wanted most. But alas!

One time in line. One plate per person. Each plate the size of saucer.

As always, when one cannot move from side to side, there is no where to go but up, a vertical tower of treats, a geological layering of dinner, core, mantle crust.

Whipped cream melted into tomato sauce blended into hollandaise, covering chop suey that crammed into macaroni and cheese covered by orange sherbet. Waldorf salad topped swedish meatballs followed by blueberry pancakes. Edible tower of Pisa, teetering, towering and toppling. My fork plunged through the mashed gray layers, digging up sad and sodden bitefuls.

We left, and we left hungry.

***

My eating these days tends towards the more sedate. The only layering I tend to do is carefully placing vegetables atop grain bowls or gracefully topping yogurt with nuts and dried fruit.

And yet, all these years later and once again I find my self ravenously hungry, feeling as if I am anxiously standing in line, tiny plate in hand.

The pile of ungraded papers keeps rising as the red marking pen slips from my fingers. Have I read this book or that one? Did I make the call? Is there a show I need to be seeing or recommending? Where was that meeting? Who wants to meet with me now? What am I making for dinner? Whom did I forget and how could I?

Oh, my plate feels so small! But I wonder, if this time instead of piling my plate oh so high perhaps better to just pick carefully at this and that?

A tiny plate. A few bites.  It will be enough.  I can go through the line more than once!

 

 

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Post #79: “Spacious Pastures of the Spirit”

FullSizeRenderI started this activity for all the wrong reasons.

I don’t just embrace schedules. I am constricted and a bit smothered by them, like a hapless fly caught in spiderweb, oddly proud nonetheless. My day, and each activity in it, is carefully choreographed and timed as I punch and feint through each moment. My joy is magnified as I smugly check things off my lists—only to begin another as soon as all my checks are made.I don’t just make every moment count. I squeeze the daylights out of every second. Again and again and again. Good for me. Good for me?

And so when I found this idea—this brilliant idea— via The Art of Manliness blog I snagged it. There are minutes wasted in every single day, they noted. Time spent waiting in line, a moment or two before an appointment, downtime before dinner (at least when someone else is cooking it). Grab those moments, they implored. Make them count. What if, The Art of Manliness noted, one spent that rattling bagful of minutes reading? A bit here and a bit there? Do those moments add up? They do. Oh yes they do.

And so tentatively I began.

My work, in its various iterations over the decades, has always meant that I essentially read for a living. This makes things a bit harder because reading, which I believe with my whole heart should always been a joy, is sometimes for me a slog. And so, I determined that my special moments of reading book would never been a book I am supposed to be reading and thinking about for work. These stolen moments throughout the day, then, would not be work. They would be just for me.

It wasn’t hard to dig through the pile of night table books to find the first ones to slide into my backpack, nestled between my wallet and my phone charger. I grabbed my reading moments greedily, beginning with Northern Farm by Henry Beston

I read it in tiny gulps, a minute or two here, a few leftover seconds there. Like a hummingbird dipping into a daylily. Weeks later, I came to and end and began another, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepard, then Beston’s The Outermost House, followed by the poems of Rumi. The pile of books is unending.

The interesting things is there shouldn’t have been time to read these books. And yet, by snatching the moments, there were. Was I somehow making time itself burgeon and expand?

By lassoing lost moments, tweezering them in to my tightly stitched scheduling, I found that I was providing myself with something truly extraordinary. I was making these stolen moments not scheduled work but as Rumi said, “spacious pastures of the spirit.” Over and over, even for a few brief moments I could melt into thought.

It’s a gift that each of us can so easily give ourselves. Just find things that you love to read. Find the spare moments to read them.

The words and thoughts will set your spirit soaring!

 

Thanks to the always interesting The Art of Manliness Blog for the idea. Definitely worth a look for any of you have haven’t found them yet. http://www.artofmanliness.com/