On some of the best nights growing up, my mom would make "hors d'oeuvres dinner," which was an assembly of meats, cheeses, crackers and vegetables she'd put on our plates to let us make our own little combinations. I remember it mostly in the summer, when it was too hot for something warm. We'd sit on the ground on the back deck of our house, freshly bathed and giddy in the warm air as we made tiny little cracker sandwiches.
Those evenings always felt special and a little fancy; we were eating party food. Now, we laugh about it because those were generally the nights when my mom didn't have time to make a big dinner, after toting all five of us to multiple sports practices and events.
Even though there was always plenty of food for second helpings of even the best cheese on the plate, something I've noticed about kids from big families is that they always eat really quickly. It's likely a combination of worrying about the good stuff getting taken first, and also a collective team energy that happens when eating in a group of five kids. When you have four playmates ready to catch lightning bugs with you, you're going to plow through those little sandwiches as quickly as possible.
I've been thinking lately, that sometimes this mentality applies to life, too.
We want to rush through the first helpings and get to the seconds, just to make sure there is enough for us:
She's having a baby already? I need to hurry up and get married so I can, too.
They're buying a house? I need to stop renting and buy one, too.
She got a promotion? I need to get out of this job and on to the next one.
But this isn't an economy of scarcity. This life will not run out of babies and houses and promotions or anything else that is not easily quantifiable. Just because someone else beat you to it does not mean you've lost your chance. When the time is right, opportunity will find you.
When we rush the whole way, we miss the chance to taste the first course. There are enough helpings to go around for all of us.
So what does enjoying the first course look like today?What do you need to stop rushing through? Are you waiting for someday and disregarding the now? Are you letting your desire to get to your future keep you from living in the moment?
Today, let's focus on enjoying the first course, even when we feel like we're ready for seconds. Let's focus on the tiny sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres dinner, and trust that we'll get to dessert when the time is right.