Sunday, 4 January 2009

Breakfast lessons

Yesterday Gord requested that we have a 'nice breakfast' today, Sunday morning. This request is short form for a breakfast consisting of eggs, toast, hashbrowns, and maybe some fake bacon, or possibly Dutch pancakes or French toast. We have an excess of eggs at the moment, as well as some fake bacon to use up, so I opted for the first choice. I'm not a terrific cook by any means, but I can whip up a pretty good breakfast.

The breakfast itself turned out well: my homemade hashbrown patties were nice and crisp, I managed to make Gord's eggs over medium like he likes them, and my egg soft basted the way I like it, all at the same time as having the toast ready. And the fake bacon is always just bacon-y enough to satisfy one of my few cravings for meaty flavor.

I sat down with my breakfast, along with my tea and orange juice and dug in. My thought process went something like this:

"Gotta eat my egg while it's hot. Wait, gotta taste that hashbrown patty first to see if it's crisp this time. Oo...I need a swig of tea while it's hot too. My toast is getting cold, ack! My bacon is cold already, dang! Hurry hurry, dunk toast in egg yolk! No time for orange juice, gotta have hot toast!"

About 30 seconds into this, I realized that maybe a breakfast consisting of six items, including two beverages, is too much to appreciate properly. I was just gobbling it all up. Maybe it would be better to just have egg and toast OR hasbrowns and bacon, so I can enjoy everything while it's hot and not have to rush or gobble. This seems obvious, but until I actually paid attention to my thoughts, I didn't even realize I was rushing and gobbling.

Funny how this is a lesson that keeps popping up for me - probably because I haven't actually learned it yet. It strikes me that this is a lesson that our society hasn't learned yet either. We're still rushing and gobbling at the world's un-refillable buffet table, leaving little for those who are further back in line. Another lesson for me personally is that of humility: I continue to make the mistake of mindless consumption at my literal breakfast table and need to remain compassionate towards those doing the same at the metaphorical world buffet table.

Further, I need to continue to work on becoming mindful of these things beforehand, rather than just catching myself in hindsight. Doing so, and changing my habits accordingly, could serve as an example that sets off a chain of insight in someone else, and so on. Not that what I do is particularly exemplary, just that seeing someone do something differently tends to have more of an impact that just talking about it. Which brings me back to my 'resolution' for 2009, which is, in a nutshell, more action and less talk.

Picture of veggie bacon courtesy this blog.

9 comments:

Heather @ SGF said...

I know exactly what you mean. Mindfulness in eating has been one of the hardest things for me, but on those occasions when I achieve it, it's incredibly rewarding. It's also like that in every area of life. In being mindful and taking just what we need (as you say, leaving enough left on the buffet for others) and really appreciating it, we get so much more out of life. I long to live this way EVERY day as well.

B said...

It sounds like you've read Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel. I really think it should be required reading for everyone. I've been very inspired and overwhelmed by his idea of consuming your share and no more. He starts off with the analogy of the world wide all you can eat buffet and gets very practical about what is fair. Spoiler alert - it's not very much. I am most certainly not in a place where I could do what he has done, but the idea has become part of my consciousness and colours everything.

Theresa said...

Heather - it is a hard won state of mind for me too, and it hardly ever happens. That's my own fault of course - I really need to pay more attention and deliberately practice it.

B - I haven't read that actually - it sounds like I should though. I first read about the buffet analogy on another blog, and now I can't remember whose - either Kale for Sale or Green Bean I think. I do want to get much closer to consuming what is my fair share of the earth's resources, but have not come close to the Riot for Austerity 90% reduction goals in anything but garbage output. It is a work in progress.

Heather @ SGF said...

If it helps, I did a review of Radical Simplicity: http://simple-green-frugal.blogspot.com/2008/05/radical-simplicity.html

Carla said...

I understand what you mean. I've always been a slow eater and although I rush around doing other things, never feel quite well if I rush while eating. But I am now trying to do less and do it well...not just with food, but everything.

Amber said...

What a beautiful post! I too struggle with mindful eating, tending to rush and overeat.
I really like the connection you make about recognizing one's own behaviour and being compassionate to others in theirs.
I am going to make a practice of mindful eating when I go home tonight, and will try to continue tomorrow, and the next day and the next....

abuddhistperspective said...

When I lived with my mother the few years before she passed away, we'd sit down for meals together. She would eat very slowly (her food got cold too ;-)). I ate very quickly. She would say admiringly, "You eat so quickly. I always was the last one to finish eating." I'd reply admiringly, "You eat so slowly. It's probably why you stay so slim!"

In her generation, which was shaped by different values and the Great Depression, people consumed less and enjoyed more. The following generations went a different route of consuming more while enjoying less. Her generation did things more thoughtfully, ours rushes mindlessly through everything, consuming resources, experiences, ideas, people.

If we do realize what we’ve done, as you said Theresa it’s after the fact. If we could just take ten deep breaths before we cook the next meal or whatever we are about to begin, we might just calm down enough to remember to live more mindfully and simply. Ten breaths. If we could just remember to take them…

artbystrongheart said...

Eating has been a race since I was a child. Often the before meal prayer went like this: "In the name of the father, son and holy ghost, whoever eats the fastest gets the most." I must admit I have the hardest time thinking about and appreciating food as I eat (or inhale) it... something to think about and work on...

Theresa said...

Oh thanks Heather - I will check out that review :)

Carla - thanks for stopping by and commenting :) It is a constant challenge for me to slow down and enjoy things for what they are, right in the moment. I'm getting a bit better at it, but I've made the least progress when it comes to eating.

Hi Amber - how did your mindful eating excercise work out? The humility thing is something else I am working on. It is tough because out in 'the world' such a high value is placed on confidence or at least the appearance of having confidence (particularly in my line of work) that I can forget to poke holes in that layer of myself sometimes.

Venerable Wuling - I do wish to return to that time of less consumption and more enjoyment. I pine away for it sometimes, before I realize that if I actually just do it myself, it will be closer to being reality than if I just sit and wish/pine! Taking ten breaths makes a lot of sense - even if I could remember to take three it would help. Slowing down would make it easier to remember to breathe, and the breathing would help me slow down. :)

Alexah - I've heard that prayer before too :)