Pass Me a Fork!
The fork is a very lonely utensil these days. This may be due to the fact that it was the last of the culinary tools to be invented, but I fear it's forlornness is due to more than being the last one invited to the table.
I actually think, there is coming a day, when the fork will be on the endangered species list. It will exist in some time capsule from 2020 and be an unknown entity to our future progeny. Why do I think this? Well, consider how many of us are dashboard diners - snacking, sipping, and shoving food into our mouths as we try to beat the clock juggling one responsibility after the other. Who needs a fork, when all my food groups are molded into my breakfast burrito that I microwaved for 45 seconds?
YOU need a fork! And I'll show you why.
As we travel back in history, we find that the spoon was the original and essential eating tool. The spoon didn't require any fine artistry; in fact it could have been something as simple as a sea shell, a bowl shaped piece of wood, or outside coating from a fruit. This spoon could scoop; it could serve; it could contain the food to be savored. And so from humble and practical beginnings the spoon was born.
Knives, came next, playing a dual role as a tool for catching and carving food. This was convenient, and along with the spoon, they became the quintessential couple enabling humans to satisfy their dietary needs. And so they were intertwined until the 11th century when they were joined by the fork, which first appeared among the wealthy of the Byzantine Empire. The original fork had two prongs, and was not readily accepted as many believed the this tool was symbolic of the devil's horns.
The fear of the fork fluttered away by the 16th century, when it found favour with the infamous French trend setter, Catherine de Medici. The fork now became a symbol of health (hygiene) and wealth, but most importantly, it revolutionized how time was spent around the table. The aristocracy soon found out that eating with a fork takes focus, attention, and direction. There was a direct result of increased social connection and conversation.
The fork then found it's place setting among the peoples, no matter their social or economic status. This youngest child of the culinary clan brought foes and friends alike to the table to work through the matters at hand. The fork, indeed, had a formidable influence at this time in history.
Now here we are, in the 21st century, living in a fast-paced, multi-tasking world of our own making, all in the name of innovation - the buzzword of the 2010s. We are very proud of our progress, of our capability to embrace change, and yet we have never had so many fragmented businesses, marriages, and individuals just trying to hang on for one more day. You know this to be true. Just look at the people around you. Oh...but that's a part of the problem! Who has time to notice? Who has time to listen? Who has time to use a spoon, a knife, let alone a fork?
Bring back the fork I say!
Everything we do today seems to be with a fast food mentality: Shove it in, half-heartedly chew, take some Pepto bismal to help you digest, repeat. This is how students learn, how workers perform, how parents train their children. Are we going to learn anything important in class today because I'm really tired? I want a job where I make big bucks without having to work hard. Here honey, watch this video on the iPad before bed. There's no connection, no conversation, just the expectation that "I've showed up, now where's my diploma, my pay cheque, my next movie". But students are failing, workers are getting fired, and families are falling apart. It's no wonder that people feel helpless and hopeless and have lost meaning and purpose in their lives. They are empty inside because that's the diet we've fed them.
The answer to the malnourishment of the nation is in the fork!
Those of the 16th century understood the three pronged purpose of eating with a fork, as mentioned above, but now let's spell it out:
First off, a fork allows you to choose what morsel you are going to sample. Your focus is drawn to that particular item and you dig in. There are no distractions, you are fully present as you make your savory selection. Every class is important. Do your job in an excellent way. You can't redeem the time lost to the Disney channel. Focus on what is right in front of you.
Secondly, you put that fork to your mouth. Once there, your attention is on your palate. You will have a reaction, pleasant or unpleasant. Your taste buds will let you know. The purpose of your taste buds is actually for your survival. Fun fact - unlike your other senses, your taste buds never diminish with age, so your attention is fixed on understanding your food and keeping you alive! You may not like the class but, there will always be at least one new thing to learn. Your job may be boring, so find a way to make it exciting - that's up to you. You may have had a very long day, but cuddling and reading a story will be the best 15 minute investment you can make in a child's life. You'll reap dividends down the road, guaranteed! Remember: attention saves lives!
Lastly, what are your long term goals? A meal doesn't stop with one bite. Your fork allows you to choose the course of your meal. The fork directs you and creates order until the plate is done, which will take some time. Goals are important and they are best discovered by connecting and conversing with someone who can help you discover them, hold you accountable, and help you attain them.
If we truly are concerned about what is going on in our own lives, or the lives of others, a fast food approach will never work. Instead, we need to sit at the table, invite our guests, and bring out the forks. Spend time where you have undivided attention, a clear focus, and a direction as to where you want to see things going. This is not innovative, but it is revolutionary in today's world. This is not progressive; it's going back to a time where human connection and conversation were face to face. It's not about change; it's about recapturing what we've lost because we were duped into thinking that acquiring goods and climbing the corporate ladder as fast as we can would buy happiness. It doesn't.
All we need people is a fork.