Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Seasoning Our Lives

What a beautiful morning sky we have today!

A few weeks ago my wife made some chili. I brought some of it to work for my lunch. As I was eating it, I thought it was very bland. Later, after I got home, I asked my wife, "Did you remember to put the chili seasoning in your chili"? Whoops! She had forgotten it! It turns out I was eating hamburger in tomato sauce. I am not trying to expose my wife's lack of culinary skills. By her own admission, she has few skills in the kitchen. Even though I don't cook much anymore, I can cook just about anything. When I was in the seminary and monastery, cooking was one of my primary jobs. Everything I know about cooking I learned from Brother Francis, Brother Brian, Brother Andre, and Brother Thomas. In those days I could cook meals for a hundred people. Actually, these thoughts are not about cooking. They're about seasoning. Life can be bland if there is no seasoning. Most of us have lives that can sometimes seem very humdrum and monotonous. It's easy to feel like all you do is get up and go to work or run all over town for your children's sporting events or constantly load and unload the washing machine and dryer. When all you do is work and chores, life can seem bland. I think one of the ways you can add some seasoning to your life is to spend some time doing things that you find personally enjoyable. Obviously, this implies taking some time for yourself. Sometimes you might have to take a day off in the middle of the week just for yourself. However you find the time, spend it doing something that you enjoy. Go to a coffee shop. Read a book. Listen to your favorite music or watch a movie. Take a class at a local college. Expand your mind. Catch a play. Go to a museum. Take in a concert. Walk in the park. With all due respect to the people in our lives, we are not just someone's child, or someone's spouse, or someone's parent. Each of us is an individual and we have some responsibility to be who we are and to develop as individuals. We can't find all of our identity in others. When we season our own personal lives, we also season the lives of those around us and we add flavor to life.

Once as I was walking out of my office building I saw a friend who receives my daily thoughts. She jokingly said, "Are you a real person? I thought you only existed in email!" I am sure many of you might think that. Many of you are strangers to me and we have never met. Of course, I sometimes get emails from people who say they feel like they know me well because of all my stories. The truth is that I am a real person. Like all of you I wake up every morning and I have to face whatever the day brings my way. Like all of you I try to live a good and meaningful life. I hope that whatever I am able to influence is better for it. Occasionally I feel like Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life". When I am down I wonder if my life makes any difference to those around me. Some days I wonder if I am even noticed. After I saw Bruce Willis in "The Sixth Sense" I wondered if I was dead for about a week afterwards. Thankfully, those are rare days and most of the time I feel like Jimmy Stewart at the end of "It's A Wonderful Life" when he realizes what a difference he has made and how blessed he is. The bottom line is that I am just like all of you and, yes, I exist beyond email.

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