“I wouldn’t want to work with my wife in a place where there were a lot of knives”, I said. We all laughed – myself and the Chinese couple working in the kitchen of their restaurant. We knew each other well, so we could joke like that. Plus this was a dream.
The woman was chopping garnish that would most likely be used only as decoration on the plates being brought out to the diners. She suddenly turned sad, and although she didn’t say, I suspected that she was contemplating why she spent so much time performing a task that had no utilitarian value. “Subversion is what happens when you begin to think about what you’re doing”, I said. One says such things in a dream, and attempts to decipher them later.
Preparing a meal for presentation isn’t a crucial activity. Without it, the food will probably taste the same to the diner, and it will certainly have the same nutritional value. But will the dining experience feel the same? Won’t it be diminished in some small way, a little of the art removed?
We may focus on the rare, major events when we look at what defines our experience, but most of daily life is composed of small details. On their own, each detail may seem as insignificant as a grain of sand. But the combined effect of the quality of each detail is as noticeable as the quality of a beach.
Giving a smile or a pleasant response to a stranger. Cleaning up after yourself in a food court, clearing the clutter from your desk at work, or wiping the few drops of spilt coffee from the tea station. Drawing a maple syrup smiley on the pancakes or placing a note in the lunch bag. Practicing feng shui on the kitchen counter, playing background music for the chores, or bringing table flowers for no particular reason. These are all little acts of appreciation, messages to each other that say “I care”. Performing one of these acts takes only a moment out of our day. Separately, none of them are a big deal. Combined, those mundane details can have a great impact on our experience, and how we feel about ourselves and the people around us.
Just for today, send little messages to the world to show you care.