An old girlfriend had only one bowl in her tiny apartment. She ate her only meal from that bowl. She is a yoga teacher, thin, and has the appetite of a bird. I thought about her bowl as a symbol of simplicity and hunger. Children holding a bowl with hunger written on their faces stopped me cold once too often. I’m going to start using only a bowl for nourishment. I get edgy when seated at a fancy dinner party where the place setting is fifteen pieces. Where’s my bowl?

I remembered her as I prepared a small salad in a medium-sized bowl. I thought…I am living large. My bowl is always full. I will never go hungry. In fact, I think about food way too much. I need to live more like a bowl than a lavish dinner setting.

A bowl could represent the entire Universe. Although no one knows what the shape of the Universe is, a bowl is just as good as any. The Universe holds itself together within its rim. A full bowl represents a step on the food chain. I make Potato leek soup from the produce at Homecoming Farm, where my wife and I have a work/share in a community of supporters. Whether my bowl is empty or full, it holds energy which is passed on. I am, along with my bowl, part of an interconnected web of life. When I volunteered at a soup kitchen, I watched the guests faces as a volunteer ladled soup into their bowl. I don’t have that look on my face when I accept a bowl of soup. My circumstances are different.

I had a friend named Linda who was a ceramicist. We became friends. When she visited my house, she brought me four soup bowls that she made. That was fifteen years ago. Only one of those bowls survives. Every time I use that bowl, I remember Linda. Cupping that bowl, I hold the world, indeed, I hold the Universe. As I eat the food in my bowl, I share that same process with millions of others who may only use their bowl a few times a week. My bowl reminds me to restrain myself.   I can do with less and get along just as well.


Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.