I was chit-chatting with my aunt recently, who shared an experience she had with my father about 30 years ago. She had gone to my father for some advice.
My father asked her a question: “Do you believe in destiny?” to which my aunt replied, “Yes.”
My father went on to say that it was fine to believe in destiny, but also that it was important for us to realize that we all have the power to make decisions within the bounds of that destiny. He shared with my aunt a powerful analogy about a buffet that held an assortment of delicacies. He said, “Life is like a buffet.”
Life Is a Buffet: A Story About Savoring What We Have
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein
He told my aunt that life is like a buffet, which comes with pre-determined food items in serving bowls — some entrees, some main courses, some salads and desserts.
He said, “If you find that the lentils you have been served are too thick, one can always add water to them. If one feels that the bread has too much oil, rub a dry piece of bread over it to soak up the excess oil. If one feels like having a dessert, but none is available at the buffet, one can always add some sugar to the yogurt, and enjoy it.”
By making decisions to create new things out of the existing — by adding or subtracting and mixing what we have — we can all live better lives.
Each and every one of us has the power and the responsibility to make the right decisions in the framework of what is served to us, and to savor a vibrant life. A functional person is flexible, objective, and multi-dimensional, whereas a dysfunctional person resists change, and is subjective and narrow-minded.
I remember once I walked up to my father and shared with him my desire to increase the professional fees I was charging for the seminars and workshops I was conducting.
My father looked at me, and with a glint of a smile in his eyes, responded “I am an ant, for me a drop is a flood.” I was quite energized by his response, and although I did go on to increase my fees in the subsequent years, I nonetheless learnt an important lesson: If we keep our egos in check and learn to savor what we have, then getting more will only add to the vibrancy. But if we are constantly unhappy with our current situation, we will continue to be unhappy even if we do manage to get more, and we will ultimately resign ourselves to complacency and cynicism.
The great Abebe Bikila, who was the first Sub-Saharan African to win an Olympic gold medal in the marathon event in Rome in 1960, ran barefoot. When he was asked why he had run the marathon without shoes, he answered, “I wanted the whole world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism.”
I am reminded of a quote: “I was sad for I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”
The lesson to be learned is to appreciate what we have, and to make the right decisions to create abundance for ourself and others.
You and I are blessed with a variety of dishes, and while we can always want far more than we are served, we must never forget to savor the abundance of simply being human.
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