The Philosophy of Dinner

Did you hear that scratching sound? Yeah, that was me dragging the soapbox over. And the plunk plunk was the sound of planting my feet firmly upon it.

This really isn’t a good topic for a lecture. A lot of people already agree. But this is a simple idea I feel so strongly about that I want to stand up and yell, even if it is just stabbing a finger at my reflection and saying “See, I told you so. Now don’t you ever give up.”

You need –and want– and have! people.

I don’t care who you are or what you look like or how much money you make. I don’t care where you are on the spectrum of developmental disorders, I don’t care what religious vows of asceticism you have taken, I don’t care how many friends you have on Facebook nothing, nothing, nothing can complete you; can lift you up; can show you what failure and resilience mean; can warm you and keep you safe; can convince you to take one more step and face one more hour of living, like one or five or nineteen or a hundred of…well, anybody’s friends.

I am deeply moved every time I experience the luck and power of a group of caring people. Not superheroes, not counselors, not EMTs, just people –who have lived enough life to see the ebb and flow and who will greet you warmly, already genuinely convinced that they like you, just because you’re alive and probably had as much trouble putting on your pants this morning as they did.

Think you don’t know those people? You’re wrong. Because they are everywhere. They are in everyone, and the easiest way to meet them is pretend to be one of them. Smile at people. Say hello to the person sitting next to you at the bar. Start a conversation with the person behind you in line at the grocery store. Next thing you know you’ll have a community in the express lane and it won’t be a federal case that granny Simpson with expired coupons for products she didn’t buy actually has 18 items instead of 12.

I shout about this because I am someone who often feels very alone, and points it out to herself (because I don’t have anyone else to point it out to, duh!). And I guess shouting might be the only way I hear me. It is also such a deep, fundamental belief for me, that we need each other, we must and we can be there for each other.

Tonight I connected that to my quest for a career in food. In broad daylight I can give you a lot of logical, well-supported arguments why I think the industry suits my personality, blah blah blah. But when you get me in a moment of just feeling, it is about wanting to be where these incredibly rich human transactions happen; where communities form. That, I think, is the loftiest outcome of a great eatery, when one isn’t worrying about food costs or ‘best of’ awards. Are the people in your dining room –dingy or distinguished– having a good time? Are they (cheesy as it is) making memories? Will they ever feel in that room, like I feel right now?

I really hope so. It is the most luxurious, sating feeling I know.


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