Tuesday, June 26, 2012

always ask the chef

The theory of happiness that is making the rounds these days is defined by “having it all.” Women, it seems, are still testing whether this kind of happiness is available to them, while many men no doubt roll their eyes or simply look the other way at this particular spectacle. But even they have their struggles and their demons.

If life were like a smorgasbord, having it all would mean eating as much as you want of everything you want, and if you’ve ever gone overboard at a buffet, you know how that ends. Many men pile it on, oblivious that in some countries people are starving for food, let alone choice. Women are going the moderation route, still believing that a little bit of everything will satisfy them.

Before we attack the method we need to look at the defining principles and ask ourselves if having equates happiness. Recently a good friend of mine sent out an update to some friends in which she explained that changes are on the horizon for her family, and in their discernment process they are looking for the best situation to accommodate both her and her husband’s professional ambitions as well as their children’s schooling and safety. Importantly, she maintained the caveat that “there are costs to many worthwhile adventures,” implying that to obtain something worth having, you may have to let go of something else, at least for a time. There’s abundant wisdom in her approach. Most of us would say we know this to be true, and yet so often we’re afraid to experience it. Loss can be heart-wrenching, and regret even more haunting. Having it all, or at least saying we gave it a go, means we don’t have to deal with these difficult emotions.

What it does mean is that we end up feeling exhausted, sub-par and divided most of the time. And it means we often settle for a mediocre experience of everything instead of excellence (or another, more internal way of saying that might be whole-heartedness, or singleness) in one or a few things.

Trying to have it all also presumes that we know what’s best for us. Or maybe it actually reveals that we don’t know. Needing to choose means that we gain enough insight and wisdom (internal as well as external) to make a decision. And for me, it means choosing to let go of my rights to have it all, or have anything at all, to the One who created me and to whom my life belongs. It might sound stifling, and I don’t necessarily think it was meant not to (we are asked to die, after all), but it actually leads to the happiness I think people are looking for. It means saying yes or no with confidence and joy, it means chasing a thing with complete commitment, and it means assurance that, however it feels in the moment, it will lead to something good.

I read once that, when at a sushi restaurant, you should never presume you know you what should order. Always ask the chef, and he will give you his best. 

I hate buffets anyway. I always leave feeling cheated.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Well said...I think America needs to hear more of this. Bring it, girl!