Italian. Greek. Thai. French. Favorite cooked recipe at home. Fancy restaurant. Convenient restaurant. Fast Food. Healthy. Not healthy. Leftovers. Foods we like and foods we don’t. Snacks. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Low fat. No fat. When to cook. What to cook. Grocery shopping. Food allergies. Clipping coupons. Who has the best meat to buy? When to serve. When to eat. How much time do we have to eat? Let’s forget lunch. I’m hungry. No thanks. Calories. Fat grams. Protein. Sugars. Gluten free. Sugar free. Diet. Salty. Spicy. Portion size. The list is endless!
When you step back and look at how we think about food I am fascinated by how complicated it is to think about food. Part of my fascination is due, in part, to the fact that I don’t focus a great deal on the “universe” of food possibilities and combinations. It simply is not something at the top of my list.
That aside, food is a great “universe” to study together with how we interact with this universe. I am sure that you probably focus on a few things that I mention in my first paragraph but ignore others. Try it. Pick out the things that are important to you in the first paragraph and those that are not.
What is great about this example is that all of us know something about food. But do you see how much we miss in what we choose to not focus on? Each one of us, most likely, has a different focus or things that they feel are more important to them than others.
Our focus influences our food choices. The same holds true with everything else we choose to focus on. Our focus always influences our choices.
Why is this good to think about?
There are two reasons. The first is that the stories you tell others or that you hear others tell will behave in an identical manner. The universe surrounding their story is large and complicated as well. They or you will choose to speak about (and ultimately emphasize) only the things that you have focused on. Much like food and the first paragraph.
The second reason is that whatever universe you pick — government, Church communities, golf, pro sports, or whatever — the universe is most likely much larger than our understanding and perspective. Remember food and the first paragraph. Only certain things will be important to us. Not everything. It never is.
We spend so little time considering what else is in the universe that is around or different than what we believe, think, and chose to focus on. Will it always change our focus once we learn something outside of our focus? I think, the possibility is great, that it will change your focus in some way.
Food should remind us to never quickly jump to conclusions. And food should also remind us that our focus and the conclusions we reach (because of our focus) may be imperfect because they are too narrow.
Life gives us every opportunity to see the universe. How much of it we see, depends on how hard we try. Sometimes we don’t know how big is the universe – what is Thai cooking anyway? Other times we might know that the universe is bigger than our focus but we choose to ignore it because what we believe is what we believe.
Enjoy your next meal. Just remember how complicated any universe is and how narrow our understanding of each one can be while eating.