"In Pala," she explained, "we don't say grace before meals. We say it with meals. Or rather we don't say grace; we chew it."Tweet It!
― Aldous Huxley, Island
A couple years ago, when reading Island by Aldous Huxley, I was transported on a literary adventure to the utopian island of Pala.
The book begins when an English journalist, Will Farnaby, is shipwrecked on a Pacific island with a unique set of spiritual, yet pragmatic, traditions.
Take their example of saying grace, a Pala tradition that Will learns about from Shanta, a young child at the dinner table:
"Grace is the first mouthful of each course — chewed and chewed until there's nothing left of it,” Shanta tells him. “And all the time you're chewing you pay attention to the flavor of the food, to its consistency and temperature, to the pressures on your teeth and the feel of the muscles in your jaw."
This tradition reminded me of one of my favorite lines from the Holstee Manifesto: “When you eat, appreciate every last bite.” It’s a beautiful practice of slowing us down so we can fully experience and appreciate what we are eating.
Whenever I can remember, I try to practice this tradition from Pala with my own twist. During the first bite of my meal, I chew slowly and intentionally. I try to recognize and taste each ingredient, thinking about how far that ingredient has traveled and the amount of effort and resources required for it to grow. I also add an element of gratitude, thanking each living being that made the bite possible.
One of the best things about adventures — even the mini-ones we take by reading a good book or immersing ourselves in a great film — is the way they can bring deeper meaning to our everyday lives.
What’s the last great book you read? What souvenir did you take away from it? (Journal your response in Reflection.app →)
Co-Founder, Holstee & Reflection.app
P.S. Thanks to Jonny and the wonderful Curious Humans newsletter for introducing me to this book a few years back!
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