Today I found myself at the Hot/Salad Bar at the DeKalb Farmers Market in Atlanta. Deciding upon a take-out serving of their chicken and wild rice soup, I leaned in and picked up the serving ladle, depositing the first spoonful of soup into my serving cup.
I did that again. Then, on the third round, I found that I had too much soup in the spoon. Instead of pouring some back, I poured it IN – to my cup – creating a mound of chicken pieces above the cupline.
I picked up a lid and placed it on top of “Poultry Peak”; then, from that moment on, everything changed. For the next twenty feet, until I reached the cashier, that soup dripped onto the floor. I held the dripping cup in my hand, while I fished into my purse for the cash to pay for the soup.
Because this was a TAKE-OUT plan, NOT an eat-in plan, I dripped my way over to the wrap-up station to prepare the food for at-home use when, I realized I would have to eat some of it first in order to get the lid to fit.
This annoyed me, because I wasn’t even hungry. Nevertheless, I transported the soup over to my table – dripping all the way.
I sat down and, even though I chipped my way gently into “Poultry Peak” with my spoon, more liquid seeped out the sides and, before I knew it, my tabletop looked like a two-year old had taken up residency.
This bowl of soup, which was supposed to be a convenience, had quickly turned into a liability. The more I had to tend to it, the more aggravated I became.
How had everything gone so wrong? Here I was: eating when I wasn’t hungry; making a mess on the table-top, piling up and wasting napkins to clean up the mess, messing up the dining area, messing up the serving line. On top of everything else, I was annoyed at myself.
Answer: I knew -in advance – that the third spoonful of soup would cause an avalanche, but I did it anyway. I’d wanted to win by getting my “money’s worth”. Instead, I lost.
I lost time. I lost patience. I wasted commodities and I ate when I wasn’t hungry. Most important, I’d left behind a mess for other people to clean up.
By the time I got that soup home, I didn’t even want to look at it anymore, let alone eat it.
We all do things like this everyday – knowing that the outcome of our actions won’t turn out well, but going ahead and taking the action, anyway.
Greed. Hate. Delusion. These are the three basic tenets which Buddhist philosophy informs us will trip us up every time.
Today I had a relatively gentle reminder of a very big lesson.
Provided, of course, that some old lady didn’t trip on my trail of greed, fall down and break her hip and is on her way to the emergency room right now.