Eat Well

"Lovers," a work in progress by David Robinson

“Lovers,” a work in progress by David Robinson

[continued from LOOK BEYOND THE BOX]

I’m looping back to Craig’s questions concerning boxes and stages. I think the next question to wade into is about what I see from my stage and when did I know to create my stage.

This is the view from my stage. It may sound bleak at first but stay with me:

Yesterday I had the opportunity to travel into Chicago and work for a couple of hours with Skip’s class at the Illinois Institute of Technology. They are budding entrepreneurs. There’s lots of energy in the world today bubbling around this word, “entrepreneur.” Accelerators and incubators are popping up everywhere. We are now a society gorging on new technology; since we are modeled on the Rome of the Caesars we have little patience for digestion (it takes time) so we prefer to vomit what we just consumed to make room for the next course. We are living at the time of an idea feeding frenzy and mind blowing technological advances. Folks with resources but few ideas are hungry to link up with folks with ideas and no resources. Everyone is insatiably hungry. No amount of gorging will satisfy the hunger.

In our world of rabid consumption, nutrition isn’t necessarily a high priority. I mean that literally and metaphorically. For evidence, look at what the networks call “news.” Long ago we realized that entertainment is more profitable than reporting so reporting is now entertainment. It matters little if there is substance to the story so long as people consume it. More evidence: one of my favorite rants of the past decade came from Dane, a neighbor, who was sitting on his stoop eating a bag of potato chips. He called me over to look at the ingredients listed on the package. High on the list, in fact the second ingredient listed, was sugar. Dane screamed, “There’s more sugar than salt in my chips!” He fumed, “I’ve been reading the ingredient lists on everything and there’s sugar in everything. It’s more important to get us hooked than to feed us anything of substance!” Of course, the punch line to the story is that he ranted with his mouth full of chips. Another bit of evidence: I stopped counting the times I’ve heard a politician say, “We have to weigh our interests against our values.” You can find a variation of this statement in the news of the day everyday. You can find an example of it in your life each day, too. How do you weigh your interests against your values?

This consumption/nutrition question is the epicenter of confusion for lots of people. It is the reason many boxes and stages are constructed.

Most people that I work with are seeking greater meaning. They want a richer experience of life. They want to fulfill their potential. In the midst of their consumption of time, they feel consumed. They have little time to breathe. They have little capacity to develop deep, meaningful relationships. They are finding that their stuff doesn’t fill the void. They are finding that their achievements are hollow unless they serve the real needs of others. They always find that what they seek is something that they’ve had all along: relationships.

There is no magic to sustenance. Slow down and enjoy your meal: literally and metaphorically. Slow down and make the meal: literally and metaphorically. Slow down and make the meal from food that hasn’t been processed: literally and metaphorically. Care for the soil and you will grow healthy food: literally and metaphorically. This requires slowing down. All of these are about the relationship you have with your world. All rich relationships require lingering and the riches are always in the relationship. Always.

Substance is always about a relationship. Relationship can’t be consumed; it must be entered and/or engaged. Tend the relationships, especially the relationship you have with yourself. In this way, the box or stage you construct will be built from self love and self love is the wellspring of love for others.

I see riches in the relationships all around me and a species (homo sapiens) trying to remember what it means to eat from the tree of life.

[to be continued]

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3 Responses

  1. Yes, sadly we’ve forgotten how to do this. We’ve also forgotten that we used to consider eating a sacred act (hence the traditional mealtime blessing). It is sacred because it literally and metaphorically represents our most basic relationship with the world.

    I realize that it’s a popular notion these days to talk about how business can be a force for good. But I can’t help but think that there is something inherently at odds with relationship, slowness, rootedness, sacredness in our current economic system. There is some basic aspect of the culture of business that makes me uneasy. I see you pointing to this in your description of the hungry groping of startup culture.

    • Thank you for this reflection. I couldn’t agree more! I believe business can be a force for good IF it serves a common good and not simply the needs of the few. Whenever I hear the phrase, “business is business” I wince; what a terrific abdication of responsibility. In the end, there must be a balance and I fear we are very far out of balance.

  2. Full of wisdom. Perfect analogies. I know this to be true: it IS all about relationships, and slowing down, and silence, and love. Thank you for the poetic reminder.

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