Tuesday, November 9, 2010

in general, it's about being mindful

Many things can make a special place special. One of those is unique dining opportunities. Wait, that sounds a bit pretentious. Maybe a better way to state it is "a place to eat that isn't like every other place to eat," since when you hear "unique dining opportunities" you might think only of a restaurant that serves up its fare on china plates in a quiet dining room. To me, unique dining includes the BBQ place I like that you stand in line to get your pile o'meat and a few handfuls of fries on butcher paper on a tray.

We were recently in a neighboring town on business and stopped at a favorite restaurant in a neighboring town. It occurred to me that instead of just gobbling up this nice burrito, I should take even a brief moment to appreciate the presentation, the colors, the aroma, the initial flavor... then gobble it up. One need not make any kind of display of all that. It really only takes a flash of time to appreciate what makes it special to you in the moment. At my favorite local burger stand here, I do take an instant to appreciate what we have in that place that one wouldn't find in a suburban strip mall. But I would appear a bit strange there to make a fuss of it.

It's about being mindful, whether it's a favorite local restaurant, a quick view of a natural feature you go by on your way to work (or maybe even travel a few blocks out of you way to see), an interesting cloud formation, the sound of a freighter horn on a foggy morning, a whiff of the river's aroma. Even in an instant, you can appreciate the special and unique features of your place as part of your daily life.

I'm currently reading "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," a collection of essays by David Foster Wallace. One essay is about a day at the Illinois State Fair that certainly captures the sense of place of the fair (that's not the supposedly fun thing he'll never do again --the title essay is about a seven night Caribbean cruise on a megaliner). It takes Mr. Wallace about 100 pages to tell us about his one day at the fair, but it's all good stuff.

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