This I Believe

Pat - Columbus, Ohio
Entered on December 13, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in power lunches. Not the ones spent making business deals over martinis or catching up on work. But lunch hours spent outside the office, eyes searching for small reminders that we are connected to a more orderly natural world.

I learned this one Spring during a particularly hectic season practicing law. Clients, accustomed to instant cyber-world answers, wanted instant responses to legal questions. Deadlines for filing briefs were looming. And provocative E-Mails were filling my in-box. I was ready to explode.

Desperate to escape but too busy to leave town, I began packing a point-and-shoot camera. Instead of “connecting” at lunch or working through it altogether, I started having lunch with my camera. Together, we traipsed through downtown parks and gawked at the towering silhouettes of trees. Because I was bent on recording what I saw, I stood back, framed each scene carefully, and thought about its significance.

The one shot through the lacy gate at a downtown park reminded me of a child peering through a magic keyhole into a quieter world. It told me it was possible, through intentional escape, to slow the rush of time.

The woody lump of an amputated tree limb presented a portrait of healing, nature finding a way to move on. Strangely formed, its woody skin folded smoothly over its scars. A peaceful resolution to some long-ago loss.

And the tall, supple trees swaying, their branches curving into the wind, looked strong and unbroken. They taught the importance of flexibility in the face of a storm.

Whenever I had lunch dates with my camera, I returned to the office with a different view. Phone messages had stacked up. Briefs were still due. There were still E-Mails that smacked of gamesmanship.

What had changed was me. I was still in a crowded gallery, but my power lunches had taught me to stand back and search for the bigger picture. They’d taught me to see connections where there had been none, to to see the whole instead of a jangling collection of parts.

That’s why I believe in power lunches. No matter how hectic the morning, they can allow us to become artists in the afternoon.