Chew on this.
"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."
― Aldous Huxley, Island
I first read this line in Curious Humans, one of my favorite newsletters.
It piqued my interest, reminding me of one of my favorite lines from the Holstee Manifesto: “When you eat, appreciate every last bite.”
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 the example of saying grace, the concept that originally spoke to me. In the book, Will learns about Pala’s tradition 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."
I thought this practice of intention and attention was a beautiful reminder to slow down — to fully experience what you are eating and give thanks before continuing with your meal.
Now, I’ve started to embrace 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 travelled 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?
P.S. Speaking of adventure, here is another great quote from Island: “Both of us victims of the same twentieth-century plague. Not the Black Death, this time; the Gray Life.”