If we’re lucky, we eat three meals a day. Most of them routine, not special in any way. A piece of toast for breakfast. A salad from the deli for lunch. The old family recipe tuna casserole for dinner.
But can you bring to mind a meal you will never forget? A dinner that stands out in your mind as special and unforgettable because of some atmosphere, or circumstance, or food that imprinted the experience for life?
My number one memorable meal happened during my honeymoon.
Before our marriage we often listened to an audio cassette (this was the 1980s) a friend of ours had brought as a gift from South American travels. We loved the wooden pan flute music of the band, Akary.
One evening during our honeymoon we dined at a restaurant high on a Puerta Vallarta mountainside. We ate Chateaubriand and drank wine on a balcony overlooking the ocean. As we watched the sun set over the ocean, the familiar sound of wooden pan flutes wafted up through the jungle trees. Akary. Unmistakably. We finished our wine and wandered down the cobblestone road to an outdoor café where the band was performing live. We could not believe the coincidence or the magical good luck. The memory of the music floating around us through the tropical air still gives me goosebumps.
Magic can happen at home too.
A few years ago a group of close friends decided at the last minute to pull together a pot luck meal. Each person contributed something different. I don’t remember the specifics of the food, but I do remember how all the flavours blended together as if we had planned it, how the atmosphere in our candlelit sunroom matched the circumstances perfectly, how our long-term, comfortable friendship felt just right.
When I look back at the special meals that stick with me, in every case the event was unplanned. As if the magic needed the spontaneity to make it happen.
What are your memorable meals?
During our renovation we peeled back the layers of our kitchen and made some discoveries.
We uncovered the original wallpaper from the 1960s that had lurked behind our cupboards all along.
When we knocked out a pantry, we found tile of the same vintage.
Removing some drywall showed us it that had never been properly attached to 2 x 4s as crooked as Wayne Gretzky’s hockey stick.
We also found inadequate insulation and . . . creative . . . electrical wiring. Our kitchen had worn a costume that covered up unseen details and flaws.
A beautiful costume is important, but it’s only as good as what’s below the surface. At Hallowe’en we are fixing all the problems and preparing a new costume for a brighter, more open, more functional and safer kitchen.
When it’s finished, we’ll love the new costume—and what’s below the surface too.
So, I’ve been a little busy lately. I’ve been doing lots of writing—for other projects, other people. This creative play-place had to be set aside. BUT it’s my birthday today. I thought I’d give myself and my creative play-place a little attention.
The thing is, I’m still busy. A full day of work and all that. I thought, “What have I written about birthdays in the past? Maybe that will inspire me.” I came across this from five years ago. It seems fitting.
Everything is unfolding as it should. It’s good that I’m interested in my career, however humble, and that it is keeping me so busy. And this should make the “vexations to the spirit” on the bus ride home tonight a little easier to handle.
Do you struggle to speak your truth and be heard? Do dark imaginings haunt your nights? Are you having trouble believing that it is a beautiful world?
I had a poster of “Desiderata” in my room at university; its words steadied me through four years of study. I often glanced at those words on the wall in times of stress, frustration, or joy. No matter what was happening in my life, something in “Desiderata” fit the situation.
“. . . whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” is a touchstone phrase for me. I sustains me through those times when I wonder why this crazy life if unfolding the way it is.
When a loud and aggressive person disturbs my day, I think, “You are a vexation to my spirit.” The phrase helps me determine the people with whom I should spend more time or less time.
I celebrated my birthday recently, so the phrase, “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth” ran through my head often.
Read through these words today, and draw from them what you need to approach the day with a smile and renewed hope.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927