While reading the latest issue of bon appetit magazine, I came across an article by Gabrielle Hamilton. In it, she writes about her separation from her husband and her desire to remain a part of her Italian in-laws’ lives. After her decision to travel to Italy and visit her former mother-in-law, Gabrielle writes:
“As we ate, I got so swept up in the easy and good mood that I quietly let go of my pressing need to be declared a member of the family and just felt glad enough to be a welcomed guest. That heavy agenda I’d brought so effortlessly slipped from my body and disappeared, like a dinner napkin, under the table.”
This quote reminds me of our universal –and often desperate– desire to have things go the way we want them to go, especially when we’re feeling down or after we’ve experienced a streak of “bad luck.” We often put so much pressure on ourselves to do things right…or better…that we miss the entire experience. We forget how to enjoy the journey because we’re so focused on our self-imposed agenda.
What Hamilton reminds us of is this: there’s no sense in worrying about how things will pan out. There’s no use in feeling guilty that we are not good enough, that we’ve failed somehow, or that we don’t deserve the respect of certain people in our lives (in her case, former family members with whom she still feels a connection). And there’s certainly no point in carrying around a burden that doesn’t serve us.
Like a good Italian meal placed before us on the table, we have no choice but to focus on the moment…and all of the flavors, the senses, and the surroundings that come with it. We can just let our expectations and our agenda slip away, like a dinner napkin. We can start enjoying life.