How do you come to the table?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea that we show up at the table much the way we show up in the rest of our lives, and it is nowhere more evident than when I watch my kids eat.

While both are good (i.e., not excessively picky) eaters compared to most of their peers, they definitely have their preferences, likes, and dislikes.

One approaches new foods with an enthusiastic attitude: “I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it;” the other approaches more warily. And because they are die-hard self-differentiators, if one likes something, the other by default must dislike it. We’ve reached the point where once one has weighed in, the other will say the opposite, finishing with “of course.”

One shows up with a tendency to pile on more than he can handle – especially with items he loves – and pours on liberal amounts of hot sauce. The other carefully arranges very modestly measured portions on her plate, attempting to ensure that no items run into each other.

One always first eats the items he likes most – given the option, he’d eat dessert first; the other postpones pleasure, saving the best for last.


And this is, as a matter of fact, the way they live their lives. One dives in without much premeditation of choices, with little regard for potential consequences; the other agonizes over each decision, always pondering, “What if…?”

One puts schoolwork and chores off until the very last moment; one gets both out of the way so that she can really enjoy herself once they’re done.

One makes friends easily – he always looks like he’s enjoying himself, and others are drawn to that sense of fun. An introvert by nature, the other is exhausted by being around others and takes much longer to warm up to strangers.

Money burns a hole in one’s pocket; the other is a careful saver who keeps accurate accounts.

One attends team practices as a chore to be tolerated but enjoys the games; the other treats practices with serious attention and abhors the actual competitions.

Only in the area of spirituality do they find common ground: I say that both went over to the dark side at a young age. Neither tolerates organized religion although both are in their own ways deeply spiritual, one finding the higher power in nature, the other in creating and appreciating art.

I imagine that most of us approach our primary foods (career, physical activity, relationships, and spirituality) much the same way we approach the dinner table – probably somewhere in between my kids’ two extremes.

As with diets, there is no one size fits all, and as with food choices, it’s worth remembering that if you feel out of balance – “unhealthy” – it may be worth examining and doing some experimenting in your primary food areas, not just in your diet.

How do YOU show up for the feast of life?