The pearly greats

by Jan on July 8, 2011

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.

Many years ago I went on a search for a string of pearls and ended up finding something that changed my life. I had wanted a touch of class, and what I received was a crash course in how to live a more fulfilling life.

The scene is as vivid today as it was then.  I was visiting New York City, and my friend Jacqueline knew exactly where to find the best pearls, at the best price.  It was a tiny store that I could never find again. The jewelers were a father and daughter team.

My friend and the daughter were in a deep discussion about the size and color of each pearl. The father, an unforgettable, tiny old man, not even 5’5”, but with a twinkle in his eye, motioned me aside. He was crooking his head, asking me to follow him.  He pulled me aside, not to talk about pearls, but because he wanted to tell me something. He may have made his career dealing in pearls, but his true contribution was in pearls of wisdom.

He spoke to me slowly and steadily, almost in a whisper. What sounded like a recipe for how to eat was really about something much greater — how to live a more peaceful, less anxious life. This is what he said:

Always eat where it is quiet.
Find a place of your own to eat.
Don’t eat where the world invades your private space.
Don’t talk when you eat—enjoy your food, focus of the flavors and chew slowly.
Take a walk after you eat.
And with every breath, remember how blessed you are.

I agreed with him, thanked him, and leaving the store, I knew I wasn’t going to follow his advice even though I knew what he was saying was right. I was headstrong. I went on with the same habits, the same old running from thing to thing, until my body would not let me do it anymore.

Even though the pearls are put away, no longer worn, and even forgotten, the jeweler and his advice have never been far from my mind.

This advice is not about only food and the way we eat, but is a deeper message about how to live our lives. To slow down, to savor each experience and even the act of taking a walk after a meal, to me is a metaphor for taking time to let life sink in.

This man can’t still be alive today, but he lives on in me. His hopeful message still makes a difference to me today.

I hope it makes a difference to you as well.


I would like to add to this. Someone once told me that you never truly eat alone. The food that is savored, has been brought to me by many different hands, the spirit that created it, the farmer, the farmhands, the delivery people, the folks who work at the market, all the way to the people who manufacatured the devices in which we use to prepare the food. As I ate my simple breakfast of toast, avocado and tea this morning savoring every bite in the solitude of my patio, I wasn’t alone, I was surrounded by all the souls who made it possible. To all of them thank you.

by Beth on July 9, 2011 at 7:13 am. #

Thank you so much for adding another pearl of wisdom to our strand. We love the imagery of a whole community surrounding you at your breakfast table, and the reminder to savor all things with gratitude.

Thanks for sharing this gem with our community of hope.

by Elizabeth on July 11, 2011 at 11:19 am. #