A Microcosm of Life


restaurant dining

Last week a wise man said to me, “our meals — how we eat and who we eat with — are a microcosm of our lives.” And while I’ve forgotten the point of the rest of the conversation, that lost mind again, his comment stayed with me.

In fact, every time I put a morsel in my mouth, I think about what he said.


If I eat breakfast, it tends to be cereal with cold milk, a multi-vitamin and a Viactiv chew while watching the TODAY Show, scrolling through email, and applying makeup. More often than not, I eat breakfast alone.


Inspired by Freegan Girl, I’ve taken to pack homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cold pasta, or salads instead of running out to Au Bon Pain or Cosi. Four days a week, I tend to eat alone while writing or reading or answering email or searching the internet.

One workday a week, I’ll meet a friend or colleague at a restaurant for lunch.

On the weekends, I do brunch.


On Saturdays and Sundays, I meet one or two or three pals out at a restaurant for a leisurely brunch — unless I have to run to the Smithsonian for an afternoon shift at the info desk. Then the brunch is not so leisurely. Last month I hosted Sunday brunch twice and swore it would become a weekly occurrence, only to meet at a restaurant the following week.


I would say four out of seven nights, I eat a sandwich or salad or pizza or sushi takeout while watching a Netflix disc on tv or reading a novel/report/website. The other three nights, I eat out at restaurants with friends.

If my meals are a microcosm of my life, I’d admit that I rarely take the time to focus on one thing. While I’m eating, I’m also talking or writing or watching or reading something else. I also take most of my meals alone. Though I don’t often feel lonely.

And taking into consideration how often I eat out, I am spending a small fortune on tips, never mind the meals themselves. I could have saved up for a month-long cruise down the Nile with all the cash devoted to dining in restaurants this past summer. I think I need to start hosting dinner parties.

While now that I’m paying more attention to my bad habits and know I need to stop wasting as much as I do, I have to agree with Freegan Girl on the whole dumpster diving movement:

“I don’t believe that you can live off a system you’re trying to eradicate at the same time. And if you want to inspire people to act, I think you should start with something they don’t think is completely gross.”

What do your meals say about you?


4 thoughts on “A Microcosm of Life

  1. My meals rarely speak to me, but if they did, they’d say:
    Don’t you do anything but eat?
    That’s because I never rush my food, or waste the experience on other things.
    That could mean I like my food too much.

  2. Hmm, interesting idea! Breakfast is coffee at my desk. Lunch is leftovers at my desk or in front of the tv. Dinner is leisurely and always with family, often also with friends. There are usually cocktails or a bottle or two of wine, and we all talk about our day or what we’re thinking about.

    I’m not sure what that says about me. My day life is fairly monochromatic, but my home life is in full color? That’s the way it feels, anyway.

  3. I’ve never thought of meals that way…

    Breakfast consists of a bowl of cereal eaten at my desk at work because I’m incapable of contemplating food before 8:30 in the morning.

    Lunch is usually something quick near the office, or leftovers from the previous evening… again at my desk.

    Sounds like I live at that damn desk.

    Dinner on the other hand is a leisurely affair cooked up by Mr. Jazz, either chatting or watching some DVD or other – which I tend to think we’ve been doing way to often recently.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  4. Very thought-provoking post. I do eat out a lot, but that could just be a symptom of living in New York City.

    I try to eat with friends when I can, though. That way I can actually enjoy mealtimes and look forward to quality time with people I care about. But with my schedule, it doesn’t always work out.

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