Saturday, August 06, 2005


As much fun as yesterday's eruption was, it's time to move on to Bob drawing our attention to a great Jon Carroll column, where Carroll in turn tells a story about dinner with Robert Fripp. Who says grace--which doesn't surprise me, somehow, having grown up listening to my parents' King Crimson albums.

Seven or eight years ago, when I started eating meat again after a long herbivorous hiatus, I started doing something like saying grace. I'd been reading a lot of Daniel Quinn, and poking at Fritjof Capra with a stick, and absorbing their ideas about the interconnection of all life forms. They come to very different conclusions, but the piece that stuck was that whatever I was eating was giving something up for me--and eventually my turn would come.

So as much as I'm being grateful for the food, I'm also doing a sort of cut-rate Tibetan meditation on death. I prepare myself for the eventuality by rejoicing in the knowledge that I will someday feed other plants and creatures and give back some of what I have been given. It's not nearly as beautiful as either Fripp's grace or Bob's, but it's hard for me to remember anything too complex when I'm hungry. And this is what I can say sincerely.
I honor and respect your energy, [and that of my companion(s)]
I anticipate my return.
But not too soon, I have work to do and people to love.
Thank you.

What always strikes me when I do this around other people is the range of reactions. Some people don't even notice I'm doing it; I try to be pretty discreet. But I do close my eyes for a minute, and I don't reach immediately for the utensils, so sometimes people do notice. And maybe there's an awkward pause as they realize that they're talking over what must be a Meaningful Moment. But really, it's not that big a deal. I don't need other people to do it, and I'm not trying to guilt other people into it. It's just a thing I do.

And then there's the other direction. I dated a man for a few years who was really respectful of food and eating, and when he learned what I was doing, he started doing it with me, and we would hold hands for a minute before we ate. Which I miss, actually, now that I think about it. That was nice. The part where he once made me say grace out loud for his family was a little weird though. I didn't know how they would take the death bit. So it was a bit of a stumble.