When I place the final dish on the table, I remove my earbuds, place them back into their smooth curving white case and shout, “Avez-vous faim?”
Often it is Mr3yo who is the one who answers with his little voice, “Oui!” Where he answers with his voice, the others answer with their bodies: making their way to the table.
This is all one of my favorite parts of the day. Yes, I like to sit down and enjoy a meal with my family. (And, yes, I love his eager “oui!”) But I feel a moment of intense satisfaction even before that as I am placing food that I have just finished preparing on the table. And that’s where that particular little shot of serotonin comes from: the moment of finishing, of completion.
And that feeling is the fix I’m almost always chasing down.
Chapter 2 of Genesis opens with, “Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. On the Seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.”
I suspect that somewhere deep inside, I crave this feeling of completion because I know that it will be followed by rest, by, perhaps, a certain enjoyment of the fruits of my labor. So that moment becomes a mixture of done-ness intermingled with anticipation (of rest, of enjoyment).
Dinner preparation might start hours or even days or weeks beforehand: whenever I decide what I am going to make on a given day or a given time. And there’s the gathering of ingredients (which often involves telling my husband who is our primary grocery shopper), the planning out the timing of the preparations and all the dishes that I’m going to serve. There’s the actual execution, which might involve tracking a few things going on at the same time.
And so, when the food ends up on our table, some times, honestly, it feels nothing short of a small miracle. And I feel that my enjoyment of the food, of my family is well earned.
I chase down that feeling other places too, not just in the kitchen. I knit, for example, towards finishing the project. Weaving in stray ends of a project is tedious work, but it signifies that I’m one soaking and drying of the piece away from being able to wear it or give it away. And when I wear a pair of socks I made or see one of my kids wear something, again, it reminds me of the small miracle that had to happen for this to get from some strands of yarn into something useable.
Sometimes the only way I can get myself to start what feels like a particularly tedious project (cleaning or organizing anything in my house, for example) is reminding myself of the little rush I’ll get when the project is done and in the knowledge that I’ll now be able to enjoy it. Part of me wants to say that I wish I could bottle (and even sell) this feeling. But I know that part of the satisfaction is that I worked towards that moment. And that I can look back and enjoy the fruits that came of it (eg wearing something warm that I made or seeing my kids enjoy a meal). It can’t be bottled.
Even with painting or drawing, which are activities I’ve only taken up in the past year or so, I work towards that moment when I can put down my brush or pencil and look at something that is not only finished but recognizable as what I intended for it to me.
And so it is that I’m always looking for that next little serotonin fix that comes in the moment between completion and enjoyment, whether it’s food I’ve prepared or knitting or sewing project.
Or pushing publish at the completion of a blog post.