When I was much younger, when indigestion was a foreign word, and a slowing metabolism was unheard of, I would love to go for buffets. My family used to celebrate birthdays over a hearty meal and a delicious cake after. Buffets are when I can pig out. I would go for the soups I love, the western cuisine, and last but not least, there was ALWAYS space for desserts. We would even be noticing the number of rounds each person went for. There was variety. Spoilt for choice. We could sample and go back for more if it was yummy. And not only would we notice how much each of us was eating. We would also watch how mountainous other diners' plates looked. How some people could just keep filling and stacking their plates, not leaving out any dish at all. One wonders how elastic their poor tummies can be.
How elastic my poor life can be in the buffet spread of life. Forced elasticity. To make good worth of the price paid for a buffet meal, I sometimes ensured I tried everything available. How now in my life? Do I bring the same buffet mentality into the reality of my life too? By filling my life with everything I can lay my hands on, by being here, there and everywhere and yet nowhere? By wanting to get the most of life, and yet getting nothing eventually?
I started to learn it was time to stop going for buffets when my body told me it can no longer take the ridiculous amount of food it was not made to hold to begin with. When I started to suffer from indigestion, when I had to regurgitate everything out in order to finally feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. Too much. My body just isn't made to take so much food. And not only the amount matters but what I eat also matters. I remember eating only one banana prata at the Prata House near my place for supper years back and suffered the same consequences that required the same solution.
And it is taking me more years to discover that my life just isn't made to take so many gods, so many focuses, so many contestants for the first place in my heart. Stuffed. Indigestion. Discomfort. Unable to rest without first regurgitating what does not sit well within.
Meals in the RGS community are simple and tasty. Most of the time these days, I take a very small portion of unpolished rice, some vegetables, some meat, coupled with a small bowl of soup. It took a while for me to get used to this diet but now, I know that this really is the amount my tummy needs. It feels comfortable after a meal. One plate, barely filled, but sufficiently filled because what is put onto this plate is what is essential.
I have one life. What do I put in it? Barely being filled with luxuries, wealth, parties, ... and in fact, even scarcely filled... but could it be that I've put my own self onto this plate of my life? Self-consumed? And being self-consumed, could it be that I've put other people I love onto it too? All my attachments. Things, lifestyle, attitudes, beliefs, work, favourite activities, favourite places ... Maybe, none of these is bad. Good things too. Wanting to worship in the church I feel most comfortable in, and where I have grown as a person and disciple of God for instance. It isn't bad in itself. Not until it makes me so stuck in this place that it causes me to be rigidly clinging on to it, unable to find the same meaning and comfort attending Mass elsewhere. So I keep trying to fill my life by returning to the same place. One plate, overflowing, yet empty because what is put onto this plate of life is everything but the Essence.
How then do I begin to empty the mountainous load on this plate and fill it with the Essential? What is essential and what is not? That is a choice I need to make. What do I want on my plate? A want requires a decision. What would give me the same comfortable feeling after my meals? A satisfaction not arrived at by filling my life with everything and anything possible but by prudently choosing what I need and want to fill my life with. And this decision isn't easy because it calls for detachment, letting go, shifting my gaze from all the distractions onto God. But this decision guarantees joy, peace, love and inner freedom. It guarantees a life worth living, a life fully lived.
In the buffet-spread of life...
What do you see on your plate of life? And how does it make you feel?
How are you being invited to change your dining habits?