Taste the Soup

by Patti Normandy Greenwood
 

When we were babies no one had to teach us how to live in the moment.
There were toes to discover and sunbeams to play with. Only the present moment existed.

Then we grew up and many of us forgot how to stay fully present. We started remembering the past and rehearsing the future. Then if we were lucky, someone or some thing reminded us that life can only be lived in the here and now.

For some of us, it was something we read in a book or heard in a workshop or a church. For me, the "aha" moment happened while I was having lunch with my good friend, Walt Busby.

It was the seventies and I was Director of the Blood Supply at the new blood bank which I had helped organize in Gainesville, Florida. It was having growing pains and I was complaining to Walter about the boss, the stress, and being on call for emergencies. Then I launched into what was happening with my new boyfriend, my mother, my children.

We had both ordered cucumber soup, a first for me, and I barely noticed that     Walter wasn't eating his. I was too busy going on and on about me, me, me. I was devouring the soup and talking non-stop between gulps.

I started to share my upcoming vacation plans when Walter gently interrupted me to say,

"I get so lonely when I take you to lunch."

I was stunned.

"What do you mean," I said, "I'm right here."

"No you're not. You're at the blood bank. You're with your boyfriend, your mother, and your kids. You're on your vacation. You're everywhere but here with me sharing this moment."

I felt like crying for some reason. I didn't know why. I told Walter I didn't know what that meant, "to be in the moment."

I was always remembering and reporting things that happened already or wondering about, rehearsing, and planning for the future. Nothing much seemed to happen in the moment. I will never forget his answer that changed my life.

"How's your soup?"

"My soup?"

Why was he asking me about my soup in the middle of our conversation?
I thought for a second, and then answered truthfully, "I don't know."

"Taste it," he said.

I did, and almost spit it out. It tasted awful.

"Yuk, that's the worst-tasting soup I've ever had. I can't eat that."

"I know," he smiled. "It's terrible. That's why I didn't eat mine. I watched you mindlessly eating a whole bowl of soup while you were so busy being somewhere else. I couldn't believe you actually liked the soup. You weren't paying any attention to it. That's what being here now is about.
Taste the soup.

 Patti Normandy Greenwood is the webmaster of Mystic Planet.
She may be reached at: contact @mysticplanet.com (remove space after contact)


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