Several of my classmates are in the armed forces. They are self-sufficient, deliberate and masters of time management. I used to manage my time, I found it exhausting. I usually ignore their military banter and haircut talk but my ears perked when they began to discuss eating schedules. It makes me cringe to even write the word "schedule" next to the delight that is eating, but those were their words, not mine.
"I read a book last year that teaches you how to prepare all your meals for an entire month in one day." Nightmares of Sunday afternoon's "chef's special" from my college cafeteria flashed through my mind. An entire week's leftovers casseroled and renamed. The Horror.
"I am not quite there yet. I prepare all my food for the week on Saturdays, but a month, that would be beautiful" he says as he unwraps and bites into a cheese stick. A cheese stick for the love of all things holy! --- At this point I blacked out. I vaguely recall images of a freezer and 60 containers each bearing a date and meal-time. I closed the freezer and opened the refrigerator. It is filled with cheese sticks. I awoke to the teacher calling my name asking my to translate the next verse. Sometimes our mind tries to protect us by blocking out memories of traumatic events. It took me a few weeks to piece this episode together.
For some people food is fuel. If they could eat one meal that would last them for an entire month, they would. Taking time to eat is just as annoying as stopping for gas. This fuel mentality is really just an effort in efficiency. Work and productivity are the goal and food is only a means to an end, that is, it keeps you going. Time spent making food, consuming food, etc., is time wasted. These people would be happy having nutrients fed to them through a tube, if it were socially acceptable. (In rare cases, however, the fuel mentality may be the product of an anti-establishment bent. "Only suckers need to eat!" Like I said, this is extremely rare, and usually short lived.)
I believe meal times are a heaven ordained break. No matter how much we eat for breakfast we will still be hungry for lunch. Don't try to fight it. If you prepare your meals for the whole week at once so you can nuke it and continue to work while you eat you are missing the point. Why not take 52 Sabbaths in a row so you don't need to be bothered with it the rest of the year? No, take a break, rest. It is meant to be this way. Some people are so driven they actually feel guilty or lazy taking time to make good food and enjoy it. I believe peace is better than productivity, and peace follows close on the heels of a meal well enjoyed. It turn, who knows, a peaceful mind and soul may yield the output you desired to begin with.
Many of us have so ordered our lives that taking time to cook/eat is either impossible or undesirable. Enter fast food. Is it any wonder that food called "fast" is likely to kill us just as fast as we can order it? Many will feel I am hypocritical here, knowing my family has a Sunday McDonalds ritual. Do not be fooled. We do not eat there because it is "fast" and we are cramped for time. It is written into the Bottig genetic code, in several important places I am sure, that no seasoning, sauce, or natural or artificial flavor can make food as savory as knowing it was a good deal. Any place can make a double cheeseburger, yes, but how many serve it with a side of dollar menu? When we gather together in the sacred halls of golden arches and red shoes we do not rush but linger for several hours in delightful conversation and reminiscing over times and friends both present and past. If church once a week isn't enough to make a man spiritual (and you and I know it isn't) then fast food once a week will do us little harm, I am sure.
Eating is the one thing we all have in common. As strange as we thought our parents were when we were in middle school, we still had this. Let us take advantage of this commonality. There is more in life than American Idol that can bring us together. There we days I did not want to be home for dinner, sure, but those times together shaped who I have become. I remember listening to my older brothers tell stories at the table and how my dad would laugh. "I need to learn this skill" I thought to myself. The dinner table was the first place I experimented with humor and witty conversation. Here I did not get pity laughs, but I did not get ridiculed either. I leaned my place as a member of the family, and I understood as I matured how my role changed. The way I talk to my father at McDonalds today is not the way we spoke when I was young. Our conversations have changed because we have changed. The way we converse around food has always been an accurate indicator of who I am and where I stood with him and the rest of the family. I was always accepted, loved and fed. I had things to look forward to as my brothers shared their lives and the adventures of dating, driving, and general mayhem. I learned important lessons as they were punished for revealing too much information. Through humor and casual conversation we opened the doors of our hearts to each other as we scarfed down chicken, mashed potatoes and canned corn.
We can spend the rest of our lives with this burden of food and the annoying hunger that disturbers us every three to six hours, or we can accept it for the gift it is and make the most of it.