Life is like a salad bar, but unlike a box of chocolates, you know what you are going to get. Everyday we have the option to choose between the macaroni salad and the cottage cheese. Choices laid out in front of us, everyday make up who we are and what we become. It all seems simple enough, but ultimately what we decide to fill our plate with is what makes up our meal. A seemingly non-life changing choice to eat cheeseburgers every day, will eventually end in high blood pressure and stroke.
The problem with so many options is, we want it all, but beets and chocolate just don’t mix. We may like both, but only one will get us to our perfect salad bar plate. If we want to live true to ourselves and practice what we preach, we can’t always pick what feels good in the moment. We have to continuously make the choices suited to our goal.
If anyone were to look at my personal Facebook page, they would meet the me that I pretend to be: kind, confident, has it all together, adventurous, perfect me. Happy perfect faces we scroll by on social media are really just snapshots of the we want others to see. I wish I was the person I portray myself to be. The reality of my life is much different from that Utopian world. Just as we pick and choose what photos to post, we also get to pick and choose what actions we take.
I have many goals in life. I want to be a writer for instance, but when I belly up to the salad bar I don’t always choose the options that will further my goal. Finishing that article versus drinking with friends? I know what I would prefer to do, but I also know what I should do. I have to ask myself daily, am I who I want to be? What choices can I make today to get me there. Sometimes the simplest things prove to be the hardest.
Like the salad bar, adding a poor choice to an otherwise perfect salad can ruin all the previous choices. When we decide to pick and choose what rules we want to follow and when we want to follow them, we struggle to live true to our ideal selves. If I want to be in shape and loose weight, I know it will take hard work at the gym, and I will have to make the choice of spinach over cake. The same goes for any religion you practice. Can you treat others how you would like to be treated and then turn around, and show little tolerance for people you perceive as being beneath you. We may say we want to be good husbands or wives and then, act selfish and inconsiderate to our spouse. How often when the choices to be the better person come up do we act upon them? How often do we practice what we preach, choose patience over agitation, understanding over intolerance or love over hate? We all have free will to make whatever choices we want but if we are striving to be better we need to live the whole truth, not just picking the parts we like, when we like.
There is a quote in the bible I feel fits this very well.
“No one can serve two masters, Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and Mammon.” Matthew 6:24
Two masters can mean anything. Perhaps its between who you want to be versus being comfortable. Maybe it is choosing between the religion you profess or something that goes against it. Unfortunately, in order to grow into our accomplished selves, we can only choose one master. We can’t always have both.
Sometimes we need to scrape the poor ingrained choices off of our plate. There was a point in my life where I lived for myself, I always choose fun over responsibility, and selfish acts over compassionate ones. My choices were leading me down a path that was against what I really wanted for myself, but it felt good at the time. All my self-indulgence just lead me to a unproductive and unfulfilled life. I had to choose differently. Cleaning off your plate of poor choices is imperative for success. If we never clean our plate off and get rid of the things in our life that don’t fit, the overall picture we have for ourselves will never manifest. This could be people, habits, or whatever is in your life that doesn’t align with your goals or beliefs. I used to be a loyal friend until the end. I would help you “bury the body” kind of friend, but then I figured out that I don’t have to go down with their ship. I don’t have to be an alcoholic because they are. Continually choosing against our ideals can guarantee continually being disappointed. Stop salad baring your decisions, and start making decisions that bring you to your goals. Maybe the macaroni salad, although tasty isn’t the best choice.
Life is hard, with a multitude of choices and ways to live its hard to pick between cottage cheese and the potato salad. There will always be the temptation to fall off your path or to load your plate with things you want in the moment, but you may regret it later. Some items are easier to clean off than others, but even if you have a sticky mess, it is best to choose the path that gets you closer to that ideal salad plate. At the end of the day, it is what you put on your plate that will make up your meal.