There are times when I think that my job is frivolous. And there are other times when I think that what I do offers real meaning and opportunity for connection in people’s lives. I’ve been back and forth about that in the last few days, as I’m sure many of us have been. How does one stay focused on reservation books and how to better acknowledge repeat guests while simultaneously implementing pandemic sanitization procedures? How does one continue with regularly scheduled meetings, thinking about what beers to have on draught, making sure the restaurant is properly staffed while everyone’s rhythms have changed overnight and we no longer know if guests are going to come in at all?
I have arrived back in the same place that I do each and every time this question has come up in the last decade. I believe that the connections that we make with each other and ourselves over food are the most important, easily made and deepest connections that we can have. There are other ways. Of course there are other ways. But for me the sharing of food is the most primal and easily accessible form of connection.
Because of these beliefs that are rooted so deeply in me, I am shockingly disturbed by the idea of social distancing. I understand. And in talking to healthcare professionals I am perhaps even being swayed to think that it is a reasonable measure for what we are seeing across the globe. But my heart hurts. We are designed to share with each other. We are meant to hold space for each other’s love, joy, success and griefs. We are built to laugh in circles of friends and break bread together after long weary days out in the world.
We stand at this bizarre viewpoint where we are able to recognize that we will be a different society on the other side. We will perhaps be different humans. And yet none of us know how true or untrue that is. Nor do we know how it is we will shift.
So in the mean time, find friends and family to eat with. Make pots of soup for each other. Accept invitations for dinner or a quick lunch. Stay conscious of how our actions are affecting local businesses. We desperately need them to still be here when we do arrive on the other side. Be kind to strangers. And find a way to remember that whatever you have is enough to share.