across the table

More on last Tuesday’s photo. I heard about Across the Table a while ago and thought it was a great idea, one that brought together two of my favorite things: good conversation and good food. I finally signed up (the dinners have been filling up fast after a profile was published in the Tribune) and went to last week’s dinner at Nella in Lincoln Park.

Keeping things brief: the dinner was a great experience. The topic for the evening was “the good life”…what is “the good life”, and are we living it. A moderator helped direct and focus the conversation between the nine participants, which flowed easily the entire night. We hit on a huge variety of topics, abstract and concrete and emotional and personal. We talked about happiness, a lot. We shared personal stories about growing up, about our desires and dreams, about our feelings regarding our current life places, among other things. Pretty heavy topics to throw around a table of strangers. But in the midst of enjoying the discussion and thinking about my answers to these big big big life questions, I realized (actually, remembered) a few very basic truths about people in general. First: I think eating with others is a very intimate experience. Sharing a meal with friends (or strangers), passing plates, leaving portions for the person next to you…it just feels nice. We all have to eat, we all get hungry. And I find comfort in satisfying that need with others. But at this meal, during this conversation, I also realized/remembered that no matter how different people are, we all want to be part of something bigger. We all want to be heard, to have someone listen to what we think and how we feel. We all want to connect with others, to be known and to know others well. We want to be understood, to find solace in hearing someone say “I know how you feel”, or “that scares me too”. I could go on, but you get the idea. This event encouraged me to be intentional about seeking out more conversations, with friends and with strangers, on topics big and small. And it was fun to watch everyone around the table slowly realize that what we were experiencing that night, in those few hours together, was good.

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