I have been searching for food on an empty plate. This phrase can mean a lot of things, apply to a lot of things. For me, it's been prodding at my heart with a judgmental pointer finger. I have been smitten with a boy who has a girlfriend for an embarrassingly long time. It's so embarrassing that I won't even admit it (almost a year). I haven't been pursuing him, and wanting to date him something fierce has not kept me from pursuing or allowing myself to be pursued by (hypothetical) other folks. But the desire for him has been lingering, growing louder and louder at times, then shrinking again, settling into that spot just at the top of my back, the spot you can never scratch when it itches. On the many nights I found myself unable to fall right asleep, I reviewed our interactions, scouring every exchange, every touch, every awkward silence, looking for something to cling to. Maybe THIS means he secretly wants to bang me? Maybe? I was looking for something that wasn't there. I was, to drive the point home, looking for food on an empty place.
The thing about "looking for food on an empty plate" is that food could, hypothetically be on that plate. There could be crumbs, traces of something, something like infatuation, but crumbs are nothing to cling to, nothing to build a big, dreamy hope on, nothing to get enveloped in. The thing about the empty plate is that we tell ourselves that maybe, someday, someone will in fact put food on that plate. Someday he will leave her for me. Someday I will like my job. Someday pie will rain down from the clouds in what will truly be "the perfect storm."It is a good thing to hope, and to have hope. It is a good thing to wonder and dream. But it is not a good thing to put your life on hold for that hope, to mope for that hope, to obsess over that hope. To stop exploring for an empty plate is a terrible thing. Maybe someday we will end up together. Maybe someday you will like your job. Maybe someday pie will rain down from the clouds in what will truly be "the perfect storm." I want to have a little hope, tucked away where I barely know its presence, in a place where I can forget about it, but think of it rarely and smile to myself. I want that hope in a place where it doesn't determine what I do, or how I act or how I run my life. I want to work hard and explore and put food on my own plate to provide for myself, instead of looking for food on an empty plate.