How being a genuine guest, changed my life forever.
Riding a train from Germany to Switzerland did little for my hangover. While my head was muddled, my heart was struggling. She had finally kissed me that morning, the first time. She would bring me to the station, waving goodbye as the train pulled away. That was the last time I saw her.
Now sitting across from my new host, a 4th-grade teacher I’d never met, I faced a whole new predicament…
He had just bought me dinner. None of it looked appetizing, at all.
Since the beginning of time, people have visited people. They must have. From visiting a neighboring tribe to crashing at the in-laws, humans have found themselves in places that weren’t their own homes. Guests.
The concept of ‘guest-hood’ (I’m coining this right now) is not new.
When you’re a guest, there are things you just do. You respect your host and any rules of their home. You don’t take advantage of their kindness. And you take what they give you.
Especially if it’s a fine dining experience in Switzerland. Even if your salad has more color in it than any rainbow you’ve ever seen and your stomach isn’t up to it.
Even if you personally, HATE vegetables.
I had just met Bruno. He was a friend of a friend of my dad’s from work (so really no reason to host me at all) and knew I would be backpacking Europe between semesters abroad. Graciously, he invited me to visit for a week and tour Zurich for a week.
On this very first night, I was forced to choose between insulting a new friend, and struggling with my particularly picky taste buds. Up until this point, pushing weird foods away had always been manageable.
I finished the salad.
Whatever it took, holding my breath, chewing small bites, quick swallows, palate washes of beer. I cleaned my plate and we moved on with our lives.
I Was Forever Changed.
This was quite literally a turning point in my life. It really does seem silly to say it, but the truth is no less real.
In that singular moment, I went from being a picky-eater-punk, to a nosher of all num-nums. A glutton of gorging, a fantastic feeder of foodstuffs…
Basically, a wall inside of me had been pummeled down. I emerged from the rubble a little more open-minded and a helluva lot better off.
This moment has stuck out to me for a long time. We’re talking a full fifteen years elapsing since then. Today I was struck by just how far-reaching the effects have been.
You see, it was never about the food. That has always and will always be a welcomed ‘by-product’ of the experience.
The deeper lesson is, because I put myself in an uncomfortable place and faced a challenge, I was able to grow as a person.
All because I was trying to be a good guest.
Even if it meant eating food that looks like this.