Looking in the Mirror
REFLECTION: it is not always pretty

My sister gave me a gift last month and then she summed me up with one sentence.

The gift was a cook book she had brought with her when she came for a visit to England from the USA.

As she presented it, she warned me I might struggle with the author because, “You’re a snob who doesn’t like snobs.”

There were ten people in the room at the time and they all nodded in agreement, so she may have had a point, and when I read a few of the recipes, I could see what she meant.

The dishes looked nutritious and tasty and David Tanis seemed to be very knowledgeable, but I found his cut and dried, this is the way it is done, approach a bit irritating.

He sounded like me talking about one of my own recipes.

I could have got upset by that realisation but instead, I remember thinking I could probably scrape a decent column out of the situation.

When I first tried, however, I couldn’t cook anything up.

I think the problem may have been that I didn’t have enough ingredients.

That changed last week when I watched a tv programme about a 40-year-old Canadian who has spent 20 years living as a Buddhist monk in Thailand.

It was part of a series called Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild.

As you may have guessed, the show was hosted by a guy named Ben Fogle.

He’s a Brit who travels to remote places to interview people who have turned their backs on mainstream western living.

I have only seen two episodes – the other one was about a French photographer living alone on a small island in New Zealand – but the series seems to be as much about Fogle as it is about the people he interviews.

Does that sound like I am being critical of Ben?

If it does, that’s because that is exactly what I am doing.

Interestingly, though, the thing that irritated me about him was that he was very judgemental about Julian the monk, so I guess Ben reminds me of me as well.

Obviously, Julian had problems fitting into life in the west, but he’d found a way to work on developing himself physically and spiritually.

He also viewed Buddhist rules as guidelines instead of commandments, aside from not harming himself or others, and he seemed very keen on not labelling things as good or bad.

David, Ben and I, on the other hand, may be a wee bit judgemental.

The cook book author had loads of rules about what could and couldn’t be used in his dishes and where they should be sourced.

The tv show host makes a living out of presenting himself as the more-or-less ideal western man as he interviews western drop-outs.

And I am taking pot-shots at both of them for not being more like the nut-case monk Ben interviewed on his show.

Did I just judge Julian there as well?

I wonder why I keep doing that.

Maybe I should stop judging others for a while…as in until next week’s column… and spend more time taking a closer look at myself.

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