Have you tried to delight in the present moment, really enjoyed the here and now? Eating a treat, have you truly tasted it, smelled it, seen it, even with noise around you? I wondered, one recent day, if we can pay attention to both life outside us and our interior life at the same time. I learn from inquiries like that. For example, a friend arrived to a brunch I had with a quart of hand-picked strawberries from Maxwell Farms. Another pal brought Holy Donuts. My kitchen filled with the aroma of hazelnut coffee, the sight of pinkish pomegranate donut glaze and the chit-chat of guests. “How ’bout that U.S. women’s soccer team?”
“Yes, but they should watch their tongue.”
“Yay for women speaking with strength.”
“What about civility?”
The room brightened with deep and conflicted conversation, various values spoken safely aloud, lots of laughs, good eating and the feeding of our social hungers. Not only present to my company, but also lusting after lusciousness, I watched the strawberries start to vanish from the serving plate. Salivating, I wanted to taste their soft drippings. The strawberries finally landed at my place at the table. I took one, and a second, then a third.
Listening to the chatter, I also made myself look at each berry’s differently-curved shapes symmetrically arranged on my tiny saucer. Their leaves shone forest green; their almost purple skins dotted and freckled. And I noted the surrounding talk. “Now they have a platform, a voice, to empower girls and women.”
I inhaled the pure, fresh, raw fragrance of real strawberry, straight from a nearby town’s field. I made myself take only one mouth-watering bite. In the midst of dining room commotion, I made myself slow down to feel the fruit’s bumpy texture and touch on my lips and tongue, and then to chew and taste fully while its tender seeds fell away from the flesh, melting. Swallowing, I noticed the next comment, “Do you think their protests will do any good?”
Reveling in food yumminess and the fun of party, I heard these words, “Those players showed joy, toughness and resilience. Strong is the new pretty, you know.”
How do we follow the full flavor–all that exists–in any given moment? Can presence hold both summer’s brief beautiful bounty and “Now they are role models”?
Maybe we grow into how to pay attention. Maybe like the strawberry, we start as a small plant, not knowing much about how to live in this world or which way rain and wind might take us. Maybe we ground in roots, and pay attention first only to what survival demands; air, water, sunshine, rich soil. Then something happens before we bloom or blossom or grow into harvest-readiness. We get juicier, hardier and more able to weather downpours and other people’s stormy opinions.
Winger and super goal-maker Megan Rapinoe said, “we’ve had so much contention. ..We have to be better… We have to love more…Be bigger than you’ve ever been before.”
In “bigger,” there is no contention–less, anyway– between savoring our own life and savoring our connection to others. “Bigger,” invites us into both. To enjoy the sweetness of strawberries, of friendly banter and of life itself, we might need to sit down, sit back, and sit in the simple opening to the ample nourishment in this moment. We love more when we stop reaching so fast and so far ahead to our next bite or our next say in the discussion. And that makes us better.