The Union Club of Cleveland’s Lawrence McFadden, CMC, GM/COO, believes balance is in the eyes of the beholder.
A favorite quote of mine is, “Ask a busy person for help. There’s a reason they’re busy.”
Two years ago, I embarked on a spiritual fast of black tea and water lasting eighteen days. I’m not sure that the livestock associations, NRA, or food companies would like to hear or promote the fact that the human body can go weeks without food. My fast success certainly calls out the culture of today’s dietary pyramid. Plenty of propaganda has convinced us that we cannot live without copious amounts of calories and that we must consume three “balanced” meals per day. But do we? Is that how we achieve optimal health? And is it the same for everyone?
Let’s use my fasting example in the same context of the “balanced life” methodology sold by self-awareness tools, programs and people. Medical professionals encourage us to make time for self-care while society suggests our time is controlled by others. This dichotomy leaves us in a dizzying state of conflict.
Meanwhile, vacations promote an array of timelines—often leveraged as bragging rights—around length or destination. Add a pinch of “You deserve your you time,” and this self-fulfilling “loss of my time” begins to dig at our concept of balance. These themes and messages make us yearn for the future instead of recognizing the present. They make us resent how our time is being spent. They suggest we’re doing this whole life thing incorrectly.
Our hospitality industry has become a lightning stick for “balance of life” articles zeroing into these very concepts. But I ask you this: Is it fair to polarize the individuals who do not count the hours and truly love their craft?
Parents always promote educational importance. They tout the idea of finding what you love, regardless of the dedication, earning, or single viewed silos.
When referring to our professional journeys, we are allowed to define a hectic lifestyle and endless requirements as enjoyable if we see fit to do so.
Many culinarians have subscribed to the notion that we are in an overworked industry that lacks quality of life. But, as mature professionals, we are allowed to individually manage our views of balance in this craft.
While toiling away behind the kitchen walls all these years, America has become the most obese, addicted, drugged, and in-depth culture in the world. Many experts have termed American habits as “lost.” Research says shame is the greatest cause of unhappiness that would cause an individual to fall into one or all these categories.
Could a vaccine for shame come from our self-purpose in a chosen profession? Chefs must not side with the undecided professionals who cannot proclaim a prideful notion of a chosen profession, regardless of demands and risks.
As a culture, we are addicted to reading, watching, and writing about heroes. The themes of hard-knock stories enhance Hollywood’s scripts against all odds. These stories leave us welling with pride, yet often seem to soften when transitioning back to our present-day norms. Have social media bragging rights touting life’s overabundance made day-to-day existence mundane?
If a secure mental balance for youth was paramount, would the armed forces recruitment be ageless? Just resist the physical side of the argument and consider a youthful, moldable brain absorbing challenges without the conflict of mature wisdom.
Could wisdom-filled mentors be robbing cooks of youthful dreams around the balance of life, yet reminisce about their journeys of sacrifice? Shouldn’t we leave a young author to choose his or her journey without requesting a conundrum of hobbies or causes, started at high school for a richer college admission application.
For the ultimate culinary example, take the unbalanced view of the Certified Master Chef exam. Some agree that it is the most dedicated sacrificial moment of one’s culinary career. If you’re unsuccessful, you want to forget the days while beating yourself up on preparation, execution, limitations and shortcomings. If you’re successful, you still beat yourself up on the low score of a single day, a technic or other simple touch that caused a point reduction in the overall score.
Maybe looking for “balance” in these two scenarios actually means balance is in the eyes of the beholder.
Perhaps our greatest power in life is the power to choose. So, when people do not understand an eighteen day fast, my answer is simply that I have the choice and I control my journey. This alone gives great balance to my life and to my decisions.