The white ceramic oval dish arrived to our table with steaming peaches covered in sweet crumble and topped with a veritable mountain of Ray’s vanilla ice cream. Rivers of melted ice cream ran through the crevices of the cracked crumble and in between the sunset-colored peach slices. We were about to dig in when a chorus of exclamations hit us from the table to our right.
I don’t know what the three business men sitting there actually said, but my lunch companion, friend and mentor Rich Donley, and I looked over, laughed and somehow invited the men to join us. They shrugged us off but kept their gazes fixed on the decadent dessert in front of us.
Then two women behind Rich beckoned to us as well, sharing again their wonder of our dessert. Tables all around us looked over, pointed, eyed our treat and in some way communicated with us, strangers in a sea of strangers, doing the business lunch thing, suddenly connecting.
It’s a funny thing, Rich said. We are all in this big open room, but sitting in our little gatherings alone, together but separate. Then suddenly a dessert arrives and we make friends in its midst.
Seriously, what is that about? Is it that we indulged in a little lunchtime fantasy by ordering a towering confection and in doing so, created bridges of emotion between all the other strangers at the Beverly Hills Grill?
Are we so blinders-on mired in our own must-do-this, can’t-do-that lives that when someone dares to break free from restraint and order dessert in the middle of the workday, we suddenly inspire others to latch on to our freedom? Do we need that encouragement, that validation, that reassurance that it will be ok if we veer from the path?
I suppose so.
I used to work with a client whose departmental leaders, every afternoon around 2 p.m., convened in the back office with red plastic cups and poured some cheap wine to sit back, put their feet on the desk and commiserate. They’d all started their workdays at dawn, so the day was winding down, and their focuses, too, and they had decided collectively that wine in the office was a perfect way to unwind the afternoon.
I can guarantee no one was drinking alone.
We do live by rules and regulations so tightly wound that breaking free to eat a high-calorie, sugary treat, even one home-cooked as the one we had on our table yesterday, is foreign to most. We have trained ourselves not to listen to these inner desires, not to indulge, just to get things done, complete the day.
And I venture to say, it’s no way to live.
Dessert at lunch – hell yeah! What about a walk in the middle of the afternoon, just to smell the sunshine and feel the blood course through your body? Why not?
Who says a business lunch has to be all pinstripes and serious faces?
Taking guidance from other countries, we might even siesta mid-day or perhaps just meditate to shut off the racing mind and reconnect with the soul. What is the worst thing that can happen? We are happier? Feel more cared-for? Gain focus and clarity and contentment?
I can’t see the harm in breaking free of the ties we bind ourselves with, even for a little taste of sweet freedom. We made so many virtual friends yesterday in the blink of an eye all because we dared to order dessert. Go ahead. Try it. I give you permission.