Kitchen Table Wisdom 1.0

09/22/2010 08:51 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

There's something about savoring that morning cup of coffee, seated in my favorite spot at the kitchen table, that invites me to pause, breathe in the perfection of the moment, and exhale completely.

My kitchen table is a kind of de-militarized "green"zone, a place where the monkey mind has not yet taken up its daily chatter and while stationed here, all is well with the world. At the great cosmic level, I know that all is always well, but sometimes I find it challenging to maintain that awareness as I launch into my day.

Here at my kitchen table, I look out into a garden of abundance growing just outside my window. Brightly colored pots house a plethora of happily flowering plants that thrive in the moderate temperatures we enjoy here in the San Francisco Bay area. And I am reminded each day, that this garden is a perfect metaphor for life.

I'm continuously amazed at how the asparagus ferns manage to be happy even as they become root-bound and overtake the real estate in which they're planted. Eventually, they'll break free of their moorings in search of larger territory to inhabit.

I marvel at how the hydrangeas keep coming back bigger and bigger each year in spite of the fact that I prune them to within an inch of their life every winter. And in spite of being planted in the "wrong" place where they don't get nearly enough sun and have a meager water supply, my two dwarf Meyer lemon trees have miraculously managed to find their way to the light, enough to keep me in magnificent lemons nearly year round.

Like the garden, it's our nature to blossom and grow, no matter what kind of soil conditions in which we find ourselves. We're ferns, perpetually in search of a larger container in which to house our lives. We're hydrangeas that need periodic pruning to cut away the dead baggage that no longer serves. And we're lemon trees, instinctively drawn to the light in order to find that within which is illuminated.

Which brings me to the kitchen table wisdom you've shared with the readers here. Over the past two years I've been contributing here at the HuffPo, you've played an important part in the unfolding of our collective wisdom found in this space on the Living page. Through your responses, the seeds I've planted through my writing have been watered and fertilized and a larger wisdom has emerged.

Like the persistent lemon trees in search of the light, you have demonstrated the human capacity to thrive in seemingly impossible conditions. Over the next few weeks, I'd like to put your offerings in the spotlight, so that together, we might harvest the bounty of your unique perspectives on life, learned from the soil in which you've been planted and so generously shared with others who visit this watering hole.

While composing this post, I noticed that the HuffPo is launching a new Pundit Badge program. Here's how it's described:

"Commenters earn a Pundit badge by consistently contributing insightful, informative, and engaging commentary. They are being recognized for driving discussions and adding value to our news coverage -- regardless of their political leanings."

Here then, is my own version, minus politics. The awarding of the first "Kitchen Table Punditry All-Star" badges. Drawn from a variety of my posts over the last six months, here are a few reader responses that, taken out of context, stand on their own. Each one offers a tasty morsel of wisdom, learned from the trenches of life. I honor these readers for their courage, commitment, and passion for life. They express themselves with an elegance and wit that enriches us all; badge winners for sure.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy this first installment of the Kitchen Table Punditry All-Star Review. And stay tuned for KTW 2.0 - coming soon!

From Thinkingwomanmillstone:

Why does one have to top the other. I'm a curmudgeon. I am beloved. I am a fixer. My philosophy in life is "Don't ask if you want to get up in the morning. The answer No will just be an additional hurdle besides your tiredness. Just get up." Problems don't make us better. Sh-t just happens. Fix it and get over it. God didn't give me a son with autism and a daughter with severe illness to make me a better person or because I'm special. Have I learned from them yes. But I would have learned from my children anyway. I certainly learned as much from my healthy son. I don't need mystical or actual rah rah cheers to get me going. I just get up. My daughter, mini me, graduated law school and passed two state bar exams while too sick to eat or drink when not at home. She's been too ill to leave the house for most of the last 16 months. It hasn't made her a better person. It robbed her of a lot of the joy of being in her 20's. She didn't need rah rah to go to endless treatments and doctors. She just got up. I just got up with her. Sh-t happens. She would have learned from the experiences that health would have brought her too. Every personality deals with things differently. My darling daughter sent me an email with her new work number yesterday. I danced.

At the end of the day, after the tears are shed, what else is there to do but dance with what's on our plates? Life invites us to dance, to learn new steps, discover the deeper truths hidden beneath the rhythms of ordinary life.

From cjsamms:

I think one of the reasons for people's discontent has to do with our self-aggrandizing notion that we NEED to have "purpose-driven" life. And that our "purpose" NEEDS to be a "higher" purpose.

It's true that some aspire to greatness. Some even achieve it. But that might not be true for all of us. Nor does it NEED to be true for all of us. For every great leader to achieve, there has to be a lot of hard working role-players doing their part to make it happen. Think Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

Maybe that's your "purpose." To be a role-player. Someone who aspires to serve mankind by playing their role and being happy with it. Maybe you're supposed to be a mom or dad who takes care of your children and passes your wisdom, experience and knowledge on to them so it can continue to be passed on after you're dead. Maybe you're just supposed to do whatever it is you do, be happy doing what you do, and pass what you do on to the next role-player.

It might sound like a small thing, but it's still the foundation of every civilization. So maybe we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves when people try to convince us that we NEED to pursue a "higher" purpose. Maybe you already found your place in this world.

What if no matter how grandiose or how lowly it may appear on the surface, our "higher" purpose is always right in front of us and as cjsamms suggests, it's simply to be who we are, right where we are?

From Diogenes of Alaska:

What would I do if we had indeed reached critical mass and the game was over and we had won?

I'd say: one more time, please. Da capo. But more edges please. Although it's already been one hell of a ride.

Or maybe I would just say: ok. So we did it. Who would have thunk.

Depends on the size of the bang after the critical mass is reached. Or maybe on the song that plays while the 'game over' is flashing.

When the day comes and the "Game Over; You Win" sign is flashing, how will you celebrate? How will you know if humanity wins?

From Pema:

When I was four I yanked on my mother's dress and made a circle. I said everything's connected! She said, oh yes honey. But I persisted and said no mommy you don't understand, doing the circle again, everything's connected! It's amazing that children can see things adults tend to forget, all the bits and pieces have us lost within ourselves our society our planet. We forget to lay on our backs and look up at clouds and see different shapes. It's nothing for a child to imagine possibilities, i think we would run our world much better if we spent some time in the grass looking up.

"Spend some time in the grass looking up"- a new campaign slogan? We could do much worse!

From Arithrianos:

i declared victory long ago, and am still winning it moment by moment when i remember, or when i forget that too is not defeat, it is just a reminder of why, why remember, why declare and live in victory, why let the astonishment really shake you to all the way up. i think i speak up quite well about the wonder of the world, not as well as mary maybe, but my voice is just as important for whoever it is important to, it only takes one. it is like anything you do, do it not because it will make a difference, it will, but because it needs doing, leave all the rest, the ego delights in comparison and despair is always about limiting your view to what can be counted, what really counts rarely can be counted, just try counting love, the math just doesn't work.

The war is over. Declare yourself the winner. Now what? Do what needs to be done and don't worry about the accounting. What really counts can't be counted. Any questions?

From SShaw490:

I was eating lunch about a week ago at a restaurant where I could see across an outdoor dining area and the city sidewalk beyond, and I noticed an obviously poor man sitting in one of the chairs outdoors. People saw him as they walked by, and I watched their reactions - they almost universally tried to become very involved in conversations with each other and became very interested in any object that was in the opposite direction. I assumed he'd ask for money, but he didn't. He just sat quietly as the bankers and executives whisked by, making sure to look the other way.

When I left, I decided to try to help him out if I could but I didn't have much cash - $9. I said hello and asked if he was doing OK, and he looked at me with very peaceful eyes and said, "Oh, I'm fine. How are you?" Actually, I wasn't sure. I gave him $5 and immediately felt bad about keeping the rest.

He was a poor man with peaceful eyes surrounded by rich men with angry eyes. The rich pursue happiness and use anger to look for it. But joy isn't found and possessed; it finds and possesses us.

Kitchen Table Wisdom from a street person... don't be attached to where you find it.

From feyangel:

I remember as a little girl feeling a sense of loss at being in a body -- like a "missing". . . yearning. I was aware I had come from someplace wonderful -- and now was here, and it didn't seem great. As I have gotten older I have figured out that the place I "came from" is still here inside of me, as a level of Consciousness or an Aspect of me -- I just have to stay aware of it. I don't do "missing" so much.

I too, remember standing in my backyard as a child, looking up at the stars and thinking to myself, "I want to go back home". I had no idea what I was even talking about, except my heart had a different kind of knowing.

Thanks to this remarkable group of people for their poignant observations on what it means to be human, living on planet Earth at the dawn of the 21st century.

What do these gems of wisdom evoke in you? I welcome your commentary and input regarding what's posted here. As always, your comments are a gift. You too. may earn a Kitchen Table Pundit Badge if your comment is selected for a future installment of the " Punditry All-Star Review".

Please come pay a visit to my personal blog and website: Rx For The Soul or contact me personally at judith@judithrich{dot}com. Become A Fanand be notified when new articles are posted.

Blessings on the path.