Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lessons From a Stranger

I treated myself to brunch at one of my favorite places in the neighborhood today. A cute, super-casual diner by the subway, with hot food and fresh-squeezed juices. It's the perfect place to eat a healthy and filling brunch on a crisp, sunny Saturday morning.

As I happily munched on my egg-white, spinach and tomato omelette (with dry rye toast and a few bites of the incredibly delicious potatoes that accompanied it) a man came in and sat down with his newspaper. He was a large man, not much older than me, and the waiter knew automatically what he wanted. I casually watched this man as the waiter brought him an iced coffee, to which he added 5 packets of sugar and a good couple of tablespoons of cream. He was then delivered a stack of chocolate chip pancakes, 2 huge sausages, and scrambled eggs with cheese. He ate quickly and seemed more focused on his paper than on what he was eating.

This man was striking for two reasons. The first of which was the reminder that THAT USED TO BE ME. Not so long ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about ordering a breakfast like that, telling myself that it was good food and I'd do better later. The second was much more judgemental, in that I wanted to go over to him and beg him to change his ways and save his life. His breakfast was probably well over 2,000 calories and had so little nutritional value. I wanted to tell him my story and how his life could be so different if he'd just open himself up to the possibilities of healthy living. I wanted to show him what a healthy, productive life he could live if only he'd swap his food choices for healthier ones. I wanted to tell him that it's okay to love and take care of himself, despite what the rest of the world might say or think.

I feel awful for judging this person based on one meal, especially because we all indulge on occasion. What if Saturday is his one day of eating exactly as he wants to? What if he's perfectly healthy and happy and content just how he is? What if he's tried and tried to change his ways, and life just prevents him from doing so? What if he already feels terrible enough as it is, and me rubbing it in his face is just another source of pain from the outside world?

I've learned through the years that you can't change people, and you can't make them do something against their will. I wouldn't have said anything to this man even if I hadn't learned that lesson, but I feel kind of bad for feeling bad for him. I sometimes don't realize how much things have changed in the last couple of years, so sometimes it shocks me to see how people live and eat. I wish I could help everyone to love to eat fresh, healthy foods like I do, but I know I can't.

And I also know I'm not a saint. I know I'm no better than that man at the diner today. I slip up, I make many mistakes, and I'm not always as healthy as I claim to be.

But I know where I've been, and I know where I'm going, even if I don't always know where I am at the present moment.

Maybe that man at the diner knew where he was at the moment; just enjoying his breakfast, without concern for the future or the consequences of eating it.

Sometimes I wish I could do that.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

We are all reflections for each other, aren't we? The dark and the light...