Our youngest, Dillon, celebrates his 4th birthday this month. And Dillon informs me, as we prepare for the party, that he will be in charge of the guest list.
In years past with his sisters I would invite their entire friend group or class, yet Dillon is different. He assures me that not everyone will get an invite.
As I read aloud the names of his classmates from the school directory Dillon quickly and assertively tells me yes or no and the reasoning behind his answer.
“Ted” I say, reading down the list (made up name, btw).
“No! Ted does not make good choices.” Dillon quickly replies.
To make the short list, you can’t have a track record of bad choices. (No previous toy taking and no sharing infractions are permitted.)
To take it further, a sign at the end of the driveway that reads “no meanies allowed” is also on request. (No, he hasn’t has a bad experience at school, the dude is just very observant.)
The birthday boy knows exactly who he wants sitting next to him while he blows out four burning candles that will sit atop his birthday cake.
And it got me thinking…
I was never this picky about who could sit next to me at my table. It took me close to 35 years to get to a place of distinctly selecting who I will “allow” to get a ring side seat to my life. It didn’t really seem to matter.
But boy, was I wrong.
The opinions, insights, suggestions and examples of those who have a seat at your table inform every aspect of what is served at your table. Every single seat matters immensely.
Because before long you will be eating and digesting things that have the capacity to mold and transform you – good or bad.
Who sits at your table matters. Here’s why & here’s where the fish come in:
Two of Dillon’s three fish recently died. (Yes, this is a story about fish, but it really does matter to you and the table of your life.)
The fish were black and white and pretty chill. Maybe too chill because there’s only one black and white fish still swimming and breathing.
Acting fast, we immediately purchase four fish to replace the two. (We like upping our odds.) These fish – a different kind – are easier to raise, says the pet store employee.
The brightly colored fish are frisky and eat like piranhas. The original black and white fish who lost his buddies has now adapted to the behavior of his new tank mates. He is no longer chill and at ease. He eats every meal like it is his last, leaving no floating fish flake to spare. He flickers his body from side to side flailing about, just like his yellow and pink counterparts. He is exuberant. His energy has changed. He has changed. He acts like a different fish.
This is why it matters who has a seat at your table. How and what you feast upon in your life has a lot to do with who you share your table with.
Before I knew any better it was a “seat yourself” mentality at my table. The table was big enough to adequately support anyone who cared to sit down. There must have been a sign that read: “the more the merrier, everyone is served here.”
Now, though, my table is much smaller and not just anyone gets a seat.
It took me years and years of consuming what wasn’t good for me before I noticed I have a say in what is served at my table.
Life does that. It teaches you the sacred role the seats at your table represent. Friends or family, if they’re sitting at your table, their presence matters deeply to your life. Their influence reaches far and wide. They can catapult you to the highest of heights, or stomp you into the lowest of lows.
Sitting at my table – my inner sanctum – is not anything I hold lightly.I tend to my table like I tend to the garden that comprises my inner thoughts. With care, dignity, observation, and sometimes willingness and fierce determination to let go of what isn’t good for me.
I laugh as I tell my husband I think Dillon is one of my spirit guides. His approach to life is intentional, even at the young age of three.
Maybe we all start off living life this way. We start off not knowing any better and ask for what we want and don’t allow any “meanies” at the party.
Maybe it’s all a matter of returning to what you already know. It’s all about the intention of what you want to feast on and who is allowed to bring a dish.
Getting clear on what you want your table to look and feel like is a sacred acts of self-care.
My imagination takes me to a dark wood table filled to the brim with kindness and compassion and overflowing with reverence for what holds meaning to me. Love and beauty reach out to the very edges and spill over into the laps of those gathered. Those seated around me have a light within that burns brightly, illuminating the table. They share their light willingly and take all of mine in. A site to behold and feel.
The seats at my table are comfortable and no one leaves when a challenge arises. Instead, there is comfort in holding space for one another here. This table does not waver or easily fold. This table does not pretend to be what it isn’t.
The seats around my table are accounted for with purposes, on purpose. This table is holy ground from which my life sprouts and grows. All are nourished here. My life is nourished here.
Tending to my own table, I know the power my influence can have and what I bring when I take a seat at someone else’s table. It’s a honor to have an invitation. This is the power we all hold – the power of influence, inspiration and love.
What does your table look like? Who are your chief advisers? How do they encourage you? How do they lift you up and inspire you? How does it feel to have them seated at the table made in your honor? How did they come to be the chosen ones that delight in your advances and hold space in your set backs? Make sure you gave them their seat. Your table is a privilege to gather around.
As for Dillon, I look forward to meeting his little buddies that will sit next to him in a few weeks. I just may leave that sign up that says “no meanies allowed.” It’s good to play offense.
PS We are setting the table for our next gathering. Join us October 18. We will cultivate inner balance through an inspired message and guided mediation. You can get more info and register below.