My friend, Mike, and I had lunch this past week. This is no simple feat. His work is demanding and his schedule unpredictable, but somehow, several times a year, he manages to break away. He’s observant with a big heart and is an excellent listener who asks great questions. We’re eating at an Outback Steakhouse in a corner booth and I’m trying to cut through the thick and gooey mozzarella cheese baked on a slice of bread floating on my French Onion soup. I really like French Onion soup.
“There’s no graceful way to eat that,” says Mike, shaking his head over his steamed fish and veggies, but looking away so as to not embarrass me.
I know this going in, as I do with every cup I’ve ordered in my life, and once again, as if it were the first time, resigned myself to this pragmatic truth. And why do I like French Onion soup so much? Ah, finally, success – I cut through – a cheesy piece of bread, then dipped into the broth, scooping up some onions along the way.
“So what’s the most gratifying thing you do all day?” he asks.
See, I told you that he asks great questions.
The delay in my response was neither cheese nor soup related. At the time, I think I told him it was writing, finishing the work I set out to do on the page. I know I thought about saying cooking or sometimes cleaning and although chores can be gratifying, I don’t think that’s what he wanted to know.
Of course it isn’t until days later until I realize the answer. Here it is – I try to do at least one favor a day. Make an introduction, write a letter of recommendation, be a really good non-fixing listener, just help someone without expectations or conditions. I don’t know if this is motivated by pay it forward or pay it back – but usually these favors cost nothing and often take very little time. I don’t always get the chance to do this since I work at home, but I have trained myself to look for the opportunities to do so.
My offering to you today is to look up from what you wrestle with to identify what is gratifying in your life. Just nod, note it, notice it. Feel it.