When I was a kid, I loved to eat out. Eating out meant I could order the kid food my mother didn’t cook at home: french fries, popcorn shrimp, and death by chocolate cake – culinary kid delight. The time spent figuring out what to order seemed to pass quickly. Reading and rereading the dessert menu and then debating what dessert to order could alone entertain me for five minutes – forever in kid time. Agony began in waiting for the food to arrive. What were they doing in that kitchen anyway?

“When is it going to get here? How much longer?” I pestered my parents. I wanted to know exactly how many more minutes I was going to have to endure. Eating out was a treat, yes, but when eating at home I didn’t have to sit down at the table until the food was on the table. Having to wait for the food to arrive meant needless extra time listening to grown-up talk. “So-and-so recently had to replace their dishwasher.” Oh, the boredom, the suffering.

I had no interest in absorbing the ambiance. Bring out those fries in a paper-lined, red, plastic basket or on Wedgwood – extraneous details. Is it time to order dessert?

As an adult, the food comes too fast. Now, I enjoy being out and taking it all in just as much as I do the meal. I take pleasure in the entire experience, not just the end result.

Figuring out fulfillment can feel like waiting for chocolate cake. Learning how to take it all in and appreciate the entire experience is the challenge.