We’re looking this week at our lives as parents and whether we call that a job or a relationship. Last weekend while I was on retreat, I did quite a bit of introspection on the ultimate truth of our existence (translation: wondering what’s for dinner) and what I came up with was this recipe:
Life is a Five Layer Bean Dip
Everything you do well requires these ingredients.
Attention – Giving undistracted attention to what appears in front of you. If you are only paying attention to your thoughts and feelings, that is fantasy. Fantasy is what is far away. Fantasy jobs and relationships are the easiest to maintain, because they don’t have the sticky stuff of:
Proximity – Showing up, shoulder to shoulder and hand to hand. This can be uncomfortable at times. And because a lot of the time we have a lot of reasons we’d rather be somewhere else, we have to make a:
Commitment – We can quit anything, and we will. There are even ways to opt-out of parenthood in one way or the other. To keep showing up requires:
Self-discipline – The will to get out of bed. To overcome inertia. To transcend self-interest and delay gratification, which isn’t delayed forever, but eventually comes in one of the many faces of:
Love – Sometimes it’s a direct deposit into your bank account, sometimes a pat on the back, sometimes a burp, a smile or a cuddle. Love is currency, the only currency in the universe. The more you give (at work, they don’t use the l-word, they call this passion), the more you receive in return. What I’ve noticed is that love is nothing but attention, and that brings us neatly back around to a bottomless bowl of bean dip.
Now when you take your tortilla chip and dive in, you don’t just scrape the sour cream off the top. Oh no, you don’t just extract the beans in the center. You can’t! You go for the whole thing at once. It’s all one thing: the flavors intermingled, the textures combined, the taste complete. You swallow it whole, or at least I do, in about 15 minutes.
Although there are many ingredients in your life, with many names, you only have one life. It’s you! Every relationship is you, every job is you, the salsa and cheese are you! Somebody lives your life, somebody eats every bit of it, and it can only be you. Your only job is to have an intimate relationship with yourself, and the more you do, the more you’ll enhance your life and everything in it. You’ll see that there is no separation between job and relationship. They are just words for you, who happens to be hungry right now.
A final desperate prod to elicit your erudite comment and thereby up your chance to own an as-yet unpublished
dustcatcher volume that I will further adorn with the nib of my 99-cent Pilot finepoint before expressing to our lucky winner drawn at the end of the week!