To live is to be awake. Both feet on the floor. Focus. But most of us move through life in a kind of half stupor. We’re going through the motions, but an android could do as much. Life pulls us into a joyless cycle. We do lots of things (some over and over, day after day) but our hearts aren’t in it (and neither are our five senses).
More than ten years ago a friend in Pennsylvania told me about a man she used to know. Kim told me she was a waitress in her teens. She worked at the Penn-Jersey Diner in Pennsauken, New Jersey. Every night, she said, a man would come in for dinner. And every night Walter would order whatever was in the top right corner of the menu. Could be Steak au Poivre or Dog Food au gratin, Kim said—didn’t matter. He’d just pick up the menu, point to the item in the top right corner of the menu and say, “I’ll have that.”
(Kim said, “If I came in early, before the menu was made up, I’d say, ‘Put something good in the top right corner—for Walter!’”)
Finally, one day Kim asked the old guy—Why? He said, “Oh, for 52 years I was married and my wife made all the decisions about what I had for dinner, and I’m too old to start making those decisions myself now.”
So, friends, look at the menu, will you? I know it’s a lot. I know you think you already know what you like and what you don’t like. But look at the menu. I know you’re busy, too distracted to focus for a moment on something so “small.” But that’s all there is, “small” things. That’s why Jesus said, “Consider the lilies.” (I love that Emily Dickinson said “Considering the lilies is the only commandment I was ever able to keep.”) That’s why the Buddha claps his hands and says, “Wake up!” It’s why St. Paul says, “Behold, now is the accepted time.” We keep thinking there’s another show about to start up, about to reveal itself (and it will be amazing), when this is it. You’re sitting in the Penn-Jersey Diner in Pennsauken and Kim is handing you a menu. It’s the marriage supper of the Lamb, people. What’ll you have?
David, funny how literally I often order the same thing over and over at my favorite restaurants. I don’t even look at the menu. I think there is something comforting in familiarity, but I see your point. If this is the only menu I’m getting, the menu of life that is, then I’d better give it a good look over and see all the choices available to me. I could be missing something delectable that is right in front of my face! Another great post!
Cathy in Orlando, FL says
“This is it.” Yes, and to learn how to live it “fully alive” is the challenge. Thanks for your reminder.
Ginny Lovas says
WOW – this described my day today – I woke up, and instead of grabbing a cup of coffee and reading the paper, I looked at everything that needed to be done, and got to work!
I’ve been in that diner (really have!).
Today I was ailve for the first time in a long time – it felt good! Must keep this up!
Jersey girl Cooks says
I love this post!I just started reading your blog after I found a link on one of Maggy’s tweets(I met Maggy, Pam and Sharon at BSP2). I look at menus all the time but now I will be more aware of trying to do this and look at the menu in real life. You are very uplifting. Thanks!