Geneen Roth is a genius.
She’s a writer, observer and knower of women and food.
You may recognize her as the author of the best selling book, Women, Food and God.
Her latest offering just came out this month and it’s an incredible read. This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide builds on her kind, keen, shared experiences with food and growth.
I often say, how we do one thing is how we do everything. That’s why examining our relationship with food can, not only transform our bodies, but our lives. In her latest book, Geneen gives us the Field Guide for this journey.
By far my favorite part was Chapter Two: The Last Bite.
In this short chapter, she describes the last spoonful of her lunch and in doing so lets us into a world of necessary endings.
One of her students sums up the feelings, “I feel bereft when I’m full . . . I keep eating to avoid the ending of goodness.”
Then Roth points out, “And therein lies the problem, not just with food but with all things temporal, every meal disappears, every vacation ends, dogs and cats (not to mention a raft of people we love) die before we do . . .”
That is it!!
Then she hits us with this,
“Every time we stop eating when our bodies have had enough, we face a little death. We face emptiness.”
I had never thought about it this way before.
For many of us, we face an ending before its time. Every day. Multiple times a day.
Just thinking about it feels heavy. Sad. Hard.
But that’s only because we temporarily forget.
What do we forget?
We forget that there is more where that came from. There is more goodness in life.
That sandwich was not our only shot.
We are alive and breathing, so we can have another pleasurable experience. Soon.
And of course it doesn’t have to be food. Geneen ends the chapter noticing how sunlight plays on the floor tiles and the birds sing just outside.
Stopping when we are physically satisfied means we have to cope with this momentary grief.
Many of us are working on that.
The flip side, of course, is not stopping—otherwise know as binging.
It’s now easy to see why we might do this—to avoid the “little death”. The emptiness.
Geneen writes, “It’s a way to not have to face that what we love ends.”
And so we define the ultimate in grown-upness—loving even though it ends.