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Eating From the Buffet of Life

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I had a meeting today with the pastor of my new church. As we were discussing our life's work I asked him how he came to know that this was his calling. He told me that he knew at a very young age that this was the work he wanted to do and that all the things he had done in his life led him to the church.

I have to admit that even in a house of God, I was jealous! I always have been jealous of people who knew what they wanted to be and then went and became that very thing. When I was younger, there were plenty of kids I knew that wanted to be doctors or lawyers or stay-at-home moms, and when they got to be those things I would feel a little jealous because they seemed to be so sure of who they were -- and I wasn't.

Unlike my pastor who knew what he wanted to be, and unlike those who set out to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, or dog trainers, I have had every job you could possibly have. I have been a cook, a waitress, and a volunteer coordinator; I've tended bar, served in the military, written a book, done corporate training, and was even a magician's assistant for a summer.

But it's not just about work. I've tried my hand at so many things; some I've stuck with a long time, others I've tried once or twice and then moved on from. I've tried martial arts, been a marathon runner, and tried my hand at knitting, pottery, and basket weaving. I even changed my major twice at school and went back to school twice to take classes in two completely different disciplines.

At some point I started to think, "Am I just a flake? Am I just one of those people that can't stick with anything; flailing around in life dabbling in whatever happens to catch my eye?"

The question of why I couldn't stick to any one thing used to bother me, until I realized this:

Life is like a buffet. There is a whole world of experiences out there to try, just like there is a whole world of various cuisines. Imagine eating only one flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life. Imagine only eating salad for dinner, or only eating dry toast for breakfast. Even the most delicious and exotic dishes would get old if you ate them all the time.

Instead of being jealous of those who found their life's work early and stayed with it, I decided instead to embrace the fact that all along, I've just been sampling off the buffet of life. I walk around the buffet table and decide to try Tae Kwon Do, then salsa dancing, and maybe tomorrow, I'll take up surfing.

I had a steady diet of slinging pizza for a few years, then I switched it up and started eating human resources management, before finally getting to the dessert course of running my own business.

Oh, I don't mean to contradict myself, I did say that I was still a little jealous today of my pastor, but that's only because sometimes I still feel restless, like I haven't quite figured out my life's purpose (I'm working on that). But I realize that because I've tried my hand at so many different things, I've been able to have a richness of experiences. I've met lots of different people, learned tons of new things, and sampled enough different flavors from the menu of life that I can bring to mind great memories and tell great stories.

I can also relate to all kinds of different people through shared experiences and that somehow makes the world seem smaller, and makes me feel more connected to the people around me. Now when I wonder if I can stick to one thing I think instead, "Why would I want to do that?" Why would I want to limit myself to just one type of work, one hobby, or one flavor of ice cream?

I want to taste test my way through life, trying everything that looks appealing, dipping my finger into the fountain of meeting new people and learning new languages. I want to fill my plate with trips to exotic places and let my cup overflow with new friendships and strong bonds.

Whether you are someone who has followed your chosen path from an early age or someone like me that has sampled a little bit of this and a little bit of that, there's always room to open yourself up to trying what life has to offer. As my mother always said, "There's always room for dessert."