Saturday, May 5, 2012

When all the plates stack up...

How do your plates stack up?

In today’s society, where the sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless, how does one manage to make the right decision, feel confident making that decision, and move forward, even if it wasn’t the best choice?

Earlier this week I was at a sushi bar–conveyor belt style–where (not unlike life) the possibilities were endless, and you had to go with your gut instinct, work fast and make a decision (on which plate to choose) before the option passed you by. At the end of lunch, my friend turned to me looking at her stack of empty plates and said, “I didn’t make good decisions.” I inquired “Really? It all looked really good and mine was good.” She signed “Well–they weren’t bad decisions–they were just alright decisions–but overall it was good.”

The sushi conveyor belt (just like life) responds to all different approaches to making tough decisions on impulse. Some people sit and stare as the multi-colored plates holding all kinds of wrapped fish, seaweed and rice, as it circles around and around. Some look nervous and intimidated, as though the plates might bite. Others take a long time looking over the menu, planning their lunch, and deciding in what order each plate will be eaten. Others grab and stash, taking as many plates as they want, mixing and matching without a care in the world. Some rely on advice, help from a friend, a chef special, or a recommendation. And some choose based on the color–or appearance (or in my case, what looks kind of recognizable or familiar). With sushi, you can go with what you know, or you can risk everything to try something new. It is the perfect meal for a familiar favorite or an adventure into the unknown.

As the conveyor belt continues to circle, you might see the perfect plate of sushi coming your way, but somehow you manage to get distracted, you flinch, and you can’t decide. In the end, you let it go. The only hope that you have is that the plate comes around again, and if it doesn’t, you hope something like it does (and scold yourself saying, “I should have taken that plate”). Hopefully a nice person took it. In the end, some of the sushi rolls are better than others. Every taste bud is different, but we took our chances when we reached for the conveyor belt and held the chopsticks up to our mouth. And as all the plates begin to stack up, there is no going back, no should have, could have, or would have. We made our choice–the plates don’t lie.

You can begin to see why the sushi conveyor belt is a metaphor for life. Over sushi we tried to tackle the hard questions: Is this the right time? Is this the normal thing to do? What is normal? Does this feel right? When? How? Now? We discussed the  (real life) advice, the specials, the recommendations, the must tries, and the personal experiences, that we received from others. We complained about the “bad plates” the rough days, the hard stuff (the cracks, and breaks), and the setbacks. We wondered about the future–down the line (after all our plates stacked up) how will we feel? We pondered choices, options, decisions made, and decisions in the making. As the lunch hour times out, we pay for our plates–both at lunch and in life. As for the plates that life throws our way–maybe at a much bigger price–but there is always more where that came from. 

This cup is for Jfro (who can juggle the most plates of anyone I know)
and for Caitlin (who encouraged me to write this up for my blog and who always has a full plate of cool things going on)

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