Sunday, September 11, 2016

My Why

Today has been an adventurous day – a culinary adventure for certain. Through this adventure I have been asking myself “why”? Why this path?

I am often amazed by the ways of the universe. It has an uncanny ability to surprise us in the most pleasant of ways. With tiny nudges the universe reminded me why this is the path I MUST travel. I feel I have no choice and am being called to contribute in a way that a corporate job seems to stifle.

We had to take it easy in Michigan today, we were flying home this evening.  Lunch was planned with aunt who lives in Michigan. Auntie has been our compass on this short trip, showing us the food sights – from dive, to hipster restaurant, and back to local treasures. Now – my dad’s side of the family is not one I know well. They were up north (mostly Michigan) and I grew up in Florida. My parents divorced when I was young, so distance and circumstance kept me from cultivating relationships.

Auntie, well, she is cool. I am grateful that I get to know her as an adult, grateful to not have her spoiled with childhood memories that would cloud my ability to know her now. HopCat yesterday – that was thanks to her. Ordering dessert for an appetizer – all her idea! Yeah – she is the aunt you always wanted. If you are nice, I might decide to share. Oh, who am I kidding, she is MINE! My 4-year-old self has spoken.

I find that the simple things in life are the answer to the question ‘why?”. Today, it was the sharing of stories with Auntie, and the sharing of her pride (food) that made the day special. Auntie is a pastry chef. Her culinary perspective is one I trust. So, to Leo’s we went, where I had a Special Coney Dog. it is simple really: a hot dog topped with chili, cheese, and mustard.

It is supposed to have raw onions, but I wanted a kiss later, so opted out. Simple and outstanding.

Then, I discovered the Midwestern way to eat paste and my new favorite: Spaghetti topped with chili and cheddar cheese. 

Oh. My!

We later enjoyed a trip to Culver’s for ice cream. Simple & perfect. Ice cream with toppings.

As Auntie said, “how do you think we are all so nice? We are all fed well and happy! Fat and creaminess and sweets keep us kind.”

On our way to the airport she delivered a parting gift: a lunch bag filled with cookies; four varieties she had baked herself this morning. She included my absolute favorite, Snickerdoodles! We don’t know each other well (remember, we are getting to know each other now). Yet another surprise from the universe in this little bag of cookies.

On the flight, more nudges.  Diane, the flight attendant was witty, funny, and a true pleasure. We shared some cookies with her, I hope Auntie doesn’t mind. Diane reminded me exactly why: hospitality. The word is said to first be found in Greek writings, meaning to Love Strangers. Diane and the Michigan fan on the flight with us showed us, two strangers, some great love.

On the next flight, the perfect ending to a series of nudges from the universe: the two sitting in front of me were perfect strangers perfectly paired on the flight. A young man (22 years old) and a businessman (I would say mid to late forties) were placed beside each other. This particular businessman seemed ready to work. I was amazed when he engaged the novice. As only the universe would have it, they are in the same field. The novice, fresh out of college, is just a couple of months into his first career job. The businessman chose to use his flight to teach the novice the basics of his business. In the hour long flight, he chose to mentor someone who he would receive zero direct benefit from. As we descended to land, I interrupted the two and simply thanked the businessman. This, exactly this, is the answer to why. As I told him – I would have killed for someone to teach me like that in my first months. Mentors are incredibly hard to discover. Their time is a commodity they invest sparingly. Yet there he was – teaching someone he did not know. Nudge. Today was the businessman’s birthday. He was supposed to be on an earlier flight, but changed to a later one to spend time with nieces and nephews in a layover city.

The universe conspired to remind me of my goal at age 11. It was a simple one, but lofty: To impact the lives of everyone I met.  As an adult, I expand that to ‘Love Strangers’. I always thought I chose restaurants. Turns out that hospitality chose me.

Thank you for reading my scribbles. 

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