Tuesday, October 5, 2010

scrambled eggs for lunch

A shrink friend once told me about taking a vacation with his family. In the course of the drive, they stopped at a highway restaurant for lunch. All five of them sat around the table looking at the menu and deciding what they wanted.

The three kids, who were old enough to read, picked what might be called the obvious -- hot dogs, hamburgers and the like. Jack's wife picked a sandwich. But when it became Jack's turn, he ordered some scrambled eggs and toast.

The younger son spoke up: "You can't have eggs."

"Why not?" Jack asked.

And the boy replied, "Eggs are what you eat for breakfast. This is lunch."

From the boy's point of view, this was the universe as he knew it and he was going to announce it when someone crossed the boundaries of that universe: This is the way things are done; these are the rules; these are the imperatives. My understanding is the way I keep the world in control, the way I lead a happy life: No eggs for lunch.

The edgy part about freedom and peace is that they are free and peaceful. As the Christian St. Paul was quoted as suggesting, "Love God and do what you will." Fearlessly, with a willingness to correct errors, but no more tied down than "God" or "Tao" or "Buddha" might be.

Martin Luther King, the American civil rights leader, once said approximately, "What scares people is not what's wrong with the world. What really scares them is that everything is all right."

What's wrong with the world: Eggs for lunch.

Everything's all right: Eggs for lunch.

If I express an opinion or taste, well, what's the important part? Isn't the important part just to recognize it as an opinion or taste ... something ephemeral and yet perhaps useful in its time? Attachment to what is ephemeral -- what always changes -- isn't good or bad necessarily, but it sure proves itself to be stupid over time. Why? Because it doesn't work. What changes, changes -- is this something to get our knickers in a twist about? No, but it usually takes some practice to strengthen the mind so that it will accord with what changes. And there are tentative rules ... no eggs for lunch; love the God whose definition remains vague; find the fence posts that bring meaning to this corral I call my life; call out the errors of others.

Gautama Buddha was quoted as saying, "It is not what others do and do not do that is my concern. It is what I do and do not do -- that is my concern." Easy to say, harder to do and yet what other recourse is there?

Set up the rules and abide by them.

Until it's time to simply enjoy your eggs.