A painting of a rice cake does not satisfy hunger.
— Ancient saying
An old man was telling his grandson about how poor he was when he was younger. “Why when I was a kid, we couldn’t even afford cheese for the mousetraps,” he said. “We had to cut out pictures of cheese and use that.”
“Wow, did you catch anything gramps?”
“Yes. We caught pictures of mice.”
I have a picture in my house of a Buddhist ceremony in Tibet. The picture was taken by a photographer who lives close to the Blue Sky Lodge. She told me all about the picture when I bought it from her—told me about the smells in the air, the temperature, the crush of the people around her, the tastes, smells, and sights of that place. When I close my eyes and remember her words, I can almost go there. Almost, but not quite. I hope to travel there sometime, to see those things and to feel my soul filled with the spirituality of a monastery high on a hill. The picture is like a menu. It sits on the counter, tempting me with all that is offered in it. But it doesn’t satisfy my hunger.
We can share our experience, strength, and hope with each other. But I can’t learn your lessons and you can’t learn mine.
I’m planning my trip to Tibet, as I write this book. Will it all work out like the trip in the picture? I don’t know. I do know that I won’t get the experience—the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and the impact on my soul—from looking at the picture on my wall.
Have you been trying to gain sustenance from looking at a picture of an experience—reading books, taking classes, going to seminars, listening to mentors—instead of going out and living life for yourself? Take another look at your menu, the list you wrote at the beginning of the year. Order something from it.
Stop looking at the picture and go live for yourself.
God, help me start living my life.