You are at a restaurant and the waiter asks, "May I take your order?" So you look at the menu and run down the categories - appetizer, salad, main course and deserts. One of each is what you order. Then the bread and butter shows up. By the time you get to the entree, your appetite has diminished substantially. Desert arrives before you finish the entree and you soldier through. Leaving the table feeling overstuffed and driven to eat at the kitchen's pace.
Alternatively, the waiter asks, "May I take your order?" You select an appetizer and let him know that you will decide on the rest later. The taste and texture of the appetizer reminds you that a fish dish would go just right. (You would have ordered the steak at the beginning!) So, when the waiter comes back, that is what you order. After finishing the entree, you realize that you are no longer very hungry and decide that a cheese and fruit plate would top off the meal nicely. You leave the table feeling sated and that you ate at your own pace.
I am amazed at how common these behaviors are in other areas of people's lives. Very often, they collect things that they don't need as if they are at some sort of holiday sale - then they pay the price for having things that do them little good. The burden of all this accumulated irrelevancies eventually comes to define a life.
So, why does it happen and what are the drivers that create the habit? Well, in the situation above, you first have to look to the owners of the restaurant. They have realized that, if you order your whole meal while you are the most hungry, you will order more food than you would if you ordered a dish at a time. They are, after all, in the business of selling as much food as they can. Then you have to look to your own tendencies - an impatience with not having things settled all at one go.
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot
The need that seems to have infected modern humans - particularly those who see themselves in proactive terms - drives an acquisitiveness that dominates their lives - both for good and bad. Dissatisfied with the moment, they attempt to reach out to the entire span of time - past, present and future. To embrace it all and squeeze it "into a ball". To reduce the matter to "some overwhelming question".
The result is not just gluttony. It's also bad digestion. And that's the insidious part of all of this. If the focus is on ingestion at a furious pace, then what happens to digestion - the much more critical process when it comes to the human experience of being?
Acquiring is ingestion. But all acquiring does is set the table for digestion. What happens when the frenzied rate of ingestion overwhelms the ability to digest? Does the term sensory overload come to mind? But no. there is something more.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot
Remember how they make pâté de foie gras? Are you really so intent on being the goose?
PJ, Mentoring Client,
Mentoring Client, CEO and Serial Entrepreneur,
Mentoring Client, Deloitte,
CEO of Croix Connect and Host of ABC Radio’s ‘Taking Care of Business’,
Partner, IT & Telecom, Defense Solutions,