Thoughts on Ratatouille and Beauty – November 16, 2009

I am watching Ratatouille and remembering how much I enjoy this film. For those who have not yet watched it, the story revolves around a rat named Remy, who happens to be the best chef in France. Of course, being a rat has its setbacks, especially in the culinary world. He befriends a clueless human named Linguini. Together, they breathe life into a once thriving restaurant. The major dramatic moment occurs when Anton Ego, the formidable food critic, decides to dine at their restaurant. In a bold move, Remy serves ratatouille, which is a peasant stew – certainly not in the same realm as French cuisine. As he takes his first bite of the dish, Ego is transported back to his childhood. He is no longer the bitter critic, but rather is a sad little boy, who is comforted by his mom with ratatouille. A change washes over his face. He is no longer the same person. He is that child again. And yet, he is still the adult. Somehow everything has come together in one of those a-ha moments. That child and that adult have integrated; have experienced life at a deeper dimension. Prior to this moment, Ego is surrounded by death. His office is even shaped like a coffin. However, by the end of the film, he is alive, enjoying life, dessert, and ratatouille.

It is something beautiful to witness these moments in one’s life. The moment that changes everything. Maybe it is found in a word or two, a note of music, or in the case of Ratatouille, a bite of food. And somehow, everything makes sense. Doesn’t it seem as though these moments are so often ushered in by beauty? It takes something of that nature to awaken us from our monotony, to scream an invitation to join into the life that is available.

Today I went to a chapel at school. The second half involved an outdoor banquet, in which we feasted on fig spread, cheese, bread, grapes and delectable chocolate truffles (that’s my kind of chapel). The tables were beautifully decorated, garnished with vibrant flowers, and everyone had a place marked with his or her name. I was one of the first people outside and it was a joy to hear the response of others as they approached the table. You could hear a change in their voice – one of surprise and delight.

This writing has got me thinking on my own experience. One moment in particular comes to mind. When I was 14 I had back surgery to correct scoliosis. It was very painful and I had to stay in the hospital for a week. There was something so lovely about coming home. It took awhile for me to get out of the car and walk back to my bed. Finally, I lay down and rested. Although it was November, the weather was perfect (that’s southern California for you). The windows were open and there was a gentle breeze going through the house. It brought with it the scent of flowers from the backyard. And in that moment, I was overwhelmed with beauty. Somehow smelling the flowers awakened in me gratitude for my life. Of course, it was in the context of going through intense surgery, but the scent brought up the emotions that couldn’t come out before. I cried – tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of exhaustion. Something shifted in me then. I was not the same.

These moments happen on a variety of different levels. Although, not every moment of change will be utterly life altering, they are still beautiful. I’m curious to hear about all your “moments” as you journey through life.

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