Posted in Commentary

All You Can Eat

Received an e-mail from a friend the other day wherein she mentioned that she was waiting for her life’s purpose to be revealed. I suppose we all are; is anyone sure they’ve got their purpose pegged? I certainly don’t. I tend to think I’m here to be here, and that love is the reason we’re all here, but that’s just my take, today. It could change tomorrow; it’s changed many times over many yesterdays.

I started thinking about waiting for a revelation, and that didn’t sit right with me. Waiting has never been my thing, really; I’m more of a go-getter when it comes to stuff I want. I don’t know that life’s purpose is revealed in a bright shining, well-defined moment for most people. The universe doesn’t send telegrams of that sort, in my experience; it’s news that has to be given in person, over time. Maybe I’m wrong. But in any case, I don’t think life’s purpose is something delivered; it’s discovered.

I think life is more buffet than sit-down dinner. No one comes to you, takes your order from a prescribed menu of items that are guaranteed to be excellent, and then serves you at your seat, and if it’s unsatisfactory, you can send it back until it’s right. No one is at your beck and call to make sure you have a delightful experience. You are not shielded from other diners.

No, you have actually get up from your chair, walk over to the sometimes overwhelming variety of offerings, and put them on your plate. You sample them, and some you like, and some you have to spit out into a napkin. And you don’t know which are which until you try them. Occasionally people will stop by to offer assistance, get you a refill on your soda, or clear the detritus of previous trips, but otherwise, you’re on your own, to make your own damn dinner. If you want to put swirl ice cream in your bowl of chili, you can do that. If you want to eat nothing but pineapple and sunflower nuts, you can do that, too. You can try some of everything, take on too much, and waddle out to your car thinking, “Damn, shouldn’t have done that. Next time, I’ll know better.” If you try enough stuff, you figure out what you like, what you want, and, just as importantly, what you don’t.

And instead of being waited on, you have to negotiate with everybody else who, like you, is trying to feed themselves at the same time. If you’re successful, everyone gets dinner before they’re cranky; if not, you might be wearing someone’s soup.

There are plenty of people in this world who would be glad to serve you a sit-down dinner. But you get what’s on the menu, what that particular chef decided your choices should be, without even knowing you. And all you get is what’s on your plate—no substitutions. You get fed, but it’s a pretty limited selection. What if your true purpose isn’t on the menu proffered?

While the buffet is sometimes messy, disorganized, and overwhelming, choice abounds. You can have what you want, and as much of it as you like, and you don’t have to keep eating anything you don’t like. But if you hang around at the buffet, waiting to be served, there’s a good chance you’ll go hungry.



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.