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.