Ah, Lent: the season of giving up things that are bad for you but you need an excuse for yourself to get rid of them so you slap religious concepts onto it and talk about how sacrificial you’re being for barely more than a month.
I didn’t do that growing up because I’m not Catholic.
But, what with those awesome Jesuits filling my head with great thoughts for 4 years of higher education, I took a liking to the idea and began to do things in recognition of Lent. Not necessarily always giving something up, but evaluating my routines and deciding where I was missing making the world a better place and myself a better friend/partner/roomie/student/person.
This year I didn’t plan on doing anything. Until….
Britt and I have been continuing our love affair/sushi affair cross-country while she’s in SkiUtah and I’m in NEO. We regularly had “conversushions” last year where we’d try a new sushi joint and talk for hours (or cry for hours or laugh for hours, depending on which month it was). One of our favorite and final ones included the sushi master handing us brand new beautiful chopsticks of our own. (This was good fortune as we’d spent the last 10 minutes of the meal debating whether or not we swipe the stix we were dining with because we loved them so much and decided against it in the end.)
So, a week ago today, we embarked on a 40-day challenge: utensil-free living until Easter. Originally we had no guidelines beyond that but the first morning proved difficult when we realized we can’t chop any large food items. We decided there were certain utensils (knives, spatulas) we can use EXCLUSIVELY IN PREPARATION of la nourriture; no utensils were to make it to our place settings or to aid in our consumption.
While it started out as merely an unconventional little thing that made us giggle, while researching how chopstick-centric cultures get around the whole cutlery thing, we found interesting reasons that we’d add to our list of motivations:
- Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs. This book focuses on gender equality (the universe really loves me) and how BOTH can only properly/fully function with the other playing an equal and important role in society.
- During Chinese New Year, all food is prepared in advance and all knives stored safely away. This is in line with folklore that good luck for the new year will be cut away if a knife is used during the first days of the year.
- “The honorable man … allows no knives on his table.” — Confucius is awesome. AND nonviolent.
- Chopsticks force you to eat smaller amounts of food at once and also usually slower. Not only do meals become meditative and conversational, but they also become more filling with less food. Imagine that, America!
- The last 2 bullets actually are derived from potentially the coolest-titled article ever authored and posted on the internet, “Chopsticks: The Choice of a Jedi.” Read more for yourself and digest (har, har).
- (Not exclusively limited to chopsticks, but) our conscious efforts to bring our own chopsticks everywhere we go sure is cutting down on waste of disposable utensils and resources used to clean reusable silverware.
We’ve been joking about how we’ll be “fluent in Chopstick” by the end of the Lenten season, but I really have been amazed with the versatility of the skinny lil’ thangs. You name it, I’ve been eating it– salads, oatmeal, pasta, vegetable bakes…In fact, last week I even managed to eat a thick shake with my chopsticks.
It’s a Lenten miracle.