Knowing the Why

At the beginning of 2017 I took over the operation of a pay-what-you-can vegan lunch café here in the heart of meat-and-potatoes Midwest America. On December first, I gave myself a daily blogging challenge to write about this café, to tell its story, and maybe figure out a little of my own story in the process. This is Post #25.

Do you ever get stuck? I get stuck. I stir the onions and season the rice and serve the plates of food and wash the pots and go home and come back the next day to do it again. And in my meta-moments, I wonder what it is I think I’m doing. I wonder if it matters. And if I manage to remind myself that it does matter, I wonder if it’s enough.

Is it ever enough?

What I took on this job I wasn’t at all clear about the why. Yes, I wanted to run my own business again, but why this business? Yes, I wanted my work to matter, but why this work?

It occurs to me, after a year of serving lunches in this church basement, that it’s okay to not know or be able to articulate the why when we start. That it’s okay to feel our way through, to learn as we go how to discern the “yes, this” from the “not quite that.”

It’s okay for the why to reveal itself as we go.

After a year, I know that at least part of my why is the satisfaction I feel when I can connect with people through a common need. Food is so basic.

My why is also about connecting food to place, and making that connection visible on every plate. Even when the food is grown elsewhere, I still choose every single thing that comes into this kitchen, I bring it together on this cutting board with this knife, bake it in these ovens, simmer it in these pots, and serve it to these people.

I think my why is very specific. This. Here. Me. You.

Not stuck. Rooted.