I talk a lot of trash on convention, but it’s not really convention that I’m criticizing. I think that conventional rituals are actually really positive, until they start being nothing more than coy formality. Take the dinner table for example. Some of my best memories in life have come from sitting down at the dinner table with my family and friends. However, prior to this, it had been my experience and opinion that a lot of sit down dinners do not amount to this experience, and are actually just this formal ritual with no real feeling behind them. That’s what I criticize.
We can do a whole lot of things with our lives, and today it’s easier than ever to withdraw from the people closest to us without even knowing it, allowing phones, television, and other distractions to draw our attention away. I think that the dinner table is such a prime example of a convention that I respect because we often reserve our attention for those present at the table with us. We put the phone away, and, even if for just 30 minutes, we indulge in conversation with those closest to us.
On the contrary, we can come home from work grumpy and tired and not up for conversation and spread our toxicity to those around us, and when that’s the case I think that sitting down at the table is pointless. You might as well just tell them the truth and go eat by yourself if you can’t detach from your day. Or give it a shot, try to stay positive, and maybe those people will make your day better by the end of the meal and help you forget the problems you faced at work.
When I got clean and sober I was able to enjoy my first family gatherings without being under the influence. I remember almost everything about them, from the fun reminiscing stories about our experiences with one another, to the hilarious ones about botched dinners and bicycle crashes in the front yard. It was a room filled with love and laughter, and you could tell by the spark in the eyes of those present, the enthusiasm in their voices, and the participation in the conversations that they were fully present. These were the first lessons I learned about what it meant to be family.
Over the years I found another family, the Boughner’s, and I’ve spent more time at their dinner table than I do my own families–but not by much. Everybody on the block knows when we’re having dinner, because it is a ruckus! It is a no-holds barred slug fest of cruel personal inside jokes, and roaring laughter that echoes down the street. These gatherings have amounted to some the funnest times of my life–even today when compared to my climbing adventures. It’s not really comparable, but if I had to choose, believe it, I’d choose the dinners with the people I love over climbing in a heartbeat.
I go up to my families every Sunday and we sit down for a meal, whether home cooked or Pizza from Filippis. It is the one place that truly brings us together into a confined shared space, and I cherish those times.
At Daryl’s, there have been holidays that were tight, and family and friends have come together and pitched in to put on massive collective feasts for upwards of 15 people. Nobody leaves the table hungry, and nobody leaves the table shorted on laughter.
I guess I write this because I was always such a skeptic, and still often am, but I am so glad that this is something I do not take for granted. I was able to spend so much quality time with my grandmother in the last years of her life at the dinner table, and I was able to define what mattered to me most in my relationships there. I have learned about love, friendship, and laughter; I always leave feeling more lighthearted than I arrived.
Life passes in an instant. There is no such thing as a foreseeable future. It would be so tragic to allow these magical moments to slip into dull and monotonous routines that we take for granted, and that’s what this blog is all about. I write about the things that make me tick, about where I find meaning and passion in a sometimes lonely, dark, and monotonous world, and I hope that these musings cause you to think about your life, and how you can transform it, or improve it, into one that resembles a dream and not just some daily grind.