Some of the most profound truths come from the simplest minds and mouths.
The movie character Forrest Gump immortalized his mother's homespun wisdom in the line, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." The saying is so pervasively repeated and unarguably true that my 11-year-old daughter, although she's never seen the movie, quotes it to me regularly. Surrounded during the holidays by tasty snack buffets of parties and bowl games, I arrived at my own recipe for sagacious living.
Life is like a five-layered been dip. You always get out what you put in.
Everything you do well requires these five ingredients. Together, they deliver irresistible goodness and lasting satisfaction.
Attention: Give undistracted attention to what appears in front of you. If you are only paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, fears or longings, you are devoting yourself to 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.
Proximity: This means you have to show up, shoulder-to-shoulder and hand-to-hand. Proximity can be uncomfortable at times. And because we have a lot of reasons we'd rather be somewhere else, and a lot of devices to take us there, we have to make a commitment.
Commitment: Don't leave. We can quit anything, and we will. There are even subtle ways to opt out of the responsibilities we haven't yet formally quit -- being half-hearted and inattentive at work, marriage and parenthood, for example. To keep showing up requires self-discipline.
Self-discipline: It takes discipline to do anything. To get out of bed. To overcome inertia. To be present and patient. To transcend self-interest and delay gratification in the face of difficulties and disappointment. When we have the faith, strength and courage to keep going, fulfillment always arrives wearing one of the many faces of love.
Love: Sometimes love comes as money; sometimes it's a pat on the back, a smile, a cuddle or an act of kindness. Love is the universal currency. The more you give, the more you receive. Love is the attention we pay, repaid to us in return, and that brings us back around to the best part. A fulfilling life is like 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.
If your life is savory, it's because of what you put into it. Layer the ingredients, replenish as needed, and serve. Goes well with chocolates.
Follow Karen Maezen Miller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kmaezenmiller