I remembered an experience when I first traveled to China. My team visited a water village some distance from Shanghai. We stopped to eat in a local Tea House/ family café. What we would call in America, a hole in the wall….
Our table was large, seating maybe 15 people with, as is typical in China, a large lazy Susan that would allow everyone at the table to try the fare. Our servers would bring each bowl and we would simply turn the lazy Susan in the direction of the dish we desired to experience.
Prior to the meal arriving the servers brought each of my Chinese counterparts a regular sized eating bowl and they brought me an octogenarian bowl with a silver dragon on the side. A tiny bowl, to say the least as “Octogenarians’” need less food, as my translator informed me. The American in me was offended for being singled out, the traveler in me simply said: Wait!
As the food arrived, I understood the genius of the server. Sticky rice, jasmine rice, oat noodles, rice noodles, flour noodles, green bean noodles, eggs & tomatoes. Prawns’ tofu and white carrot, Harbin beef in a dark sauce, bouza, dumplings, vinegar pork ribs, sweet pork ribs, lamb with eggplant & peppers, fish head stew, hairy crabs, red bean cakes and so much more.
And there I was, a novice with chopsticks and a feast quickly disappearing before me. I filled my little dragon bowl as fast as I could and savored each dish, for only moments, as I treated the lazy Susan like a carnival carousel speeding it up to reach each desired prize, to the chagrin of my Chinese host. Filling my bowl, never too much, never full, but enough for the senses too experience. I filled my bowl.
A single moment in time, a multi-cultural lesson, from my labyrinth of memories and experiences, resting in the corners of my mind, brought to the light of day by a catalyst unbeknownst to me. The catalyst for this story, three key points from a final conversation, with a former colleague, concerning a 40+ year relationship, loss of soulmates and octogenarians finding relief.
Throughout our lives, we fill our bowls. The Five Senses, the Book, the Lecture, the Degree, the Certification, the Professor, the Pastor, the Prayer, the Movie and Travel Abroad. The relationships of Colleagues, Acquaintances, strangers and loved ones.
The Son, who after 9 months of swimming in his mother’s ocean decides to come into the world, to see the stars, and in this reality is where he finds the reflection of the sun, from the full moon of his mother’s face, a beacon for the rest of his life. She fills his bowl.
The Father, who brings McDonalds, to his daughter, for a treasured lunch in fourth grade. (10 chicken nuggets dad, with a large fry, a Coke and Sprite. My friend Bella likes ketchup and I want Honey Mustard, Dad. Love you Dad! Lots of ketchup, Dad!) He fills her bowl.
So, as we look at those we serve, the relationships with no expiration date, the event that defines our mortality and humanity, the observance of time in the faces of our colleagues, friends, loved ones and clients. We fill their bowls, with the sum of our life experiences, until our bowl shines back at us. Empty and yet, fulfilled. Fill your bowl.
John Korns is enthusiastic about sharing his life, experiences, stories and worldview with readers. A Life Sciences professional who collaborates with leaders and investors to help them deliver Social Equity and opportunity through Controlled Environment food & medicine production. Having worked as an Adjunct Professor in China, a consultant in Africa and Businessman. John loves international travel and working for the future of communities and families.