A friend recently told me this wonderful story…
“Today I had an experience that I would like to share with many people, since it took many people for me to have the experience.
I ate breakfast.
I had French vanilla yogurt, grape nuts, and a banana, mixed in a bowl. Now, to anyone who has ever eaten a meal mindfully and with gratitude, that would be all I need to say, but for everyone else, I will describe the experience.
I had just finished meditating and so was in a calm, peaceful state of mind. As I reached for the ingredients, I wondered how many people it took to bring me my meal. First I thought of my girlfriend, because without her, I would have never thought of eating such a thing. Then I thought of her parents, because without them, I would never have had this girlfriend to introduce me to this meal. And of course, all those others back through time that helped to create this wonderful person, both body and mind (because if the things that happened to her hadn’t happened, then chances are I wouldn’t have fallen in love with her in the first place), and I thought that this was a lot of people. But were there more?
Just to give you an idea of how my mind moved during that meal:
There were people who gave their lives so that I might have that breakfast! This country is dedicated to freedom, and many people died so that the system that allows me the right to eat what I want could exist. Without those incredibly brave souls dying in trenches and on fields and in the water or in the air, I wouldn’t have that meal. They ensured that the businesses could flourish that would some day put that food in front of me.
I think an abbreviated list of those I thought to be grateful for might help you to understand the experience:
First and foremost – all those who gave their lives so that freedom could exist. Thank you.
The plants, bugs and animals that died to give the trees their food.
The growers of the trees.
The pickers of the fruit.
The shippers, buyers, and packagers of the fruit that it took to get the fruit into the store from where I bought the items.
The store owners and stockers. (Without the person who put the fruit out on the shelf, I would never have had the chance to see and buy it.) Their parents, grand parents, siblings and teachers who helped them to be where they are and who they are today.
Then there was the yogurt:
The farmers and people who created the processes that make yogurt (I have no idea how it’s made).
The packagers, shippers, truck drivers, lumpers (folks who load and unload trucks), inspectors and other government officials who made it possible for the process to happen.
The ink makers and printers and plastic workers who made the packaging – plus the inventors of those things.
The store owners and stockers. Their parents, grandparents, siblings and teachers who helped them to be where they are and who they are today.
And then there were the grape nuts…
and then there was the bowl I ate it out of…
and then there was the spoon…
and the apartment I was in…
and those who paid me the money to be able to buy the food…
and the people who gave them jobs so that they could have the money to pay me….
And so on, and so on, and so on.
You know, in some form, I think it took almost everyone and everything on Earth and in the Universe to enable me to eat that little meal.
It is absolutely amazing to think that I had my meal, in part, because of you. To anyone who may come to read this article, with sincerity, I would like to say, “Thank you for your part in getting me my nourishment. Without you, I likely would not have been able to eat my breakfast, or write these words.”
I hope that, in turn, you will get to realize the lives you touch, no matter what your job might be, no matter what your life might be like. Without you, someone somewhere wouldn’t exist.”
Having worked for the Scottish Parliament and various newspaper titles, Clarke has a keen interest in current affairs and global politics and as a practicing Buddhist, he also devotes a lot of time to spirituality.