“Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t yet come? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth – one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods.” – Epictetus, Enchiridion, 15
I’m going to reference the meditation directly because I’m not sure I can offer anything better. If life is seen as a banquet…
…reflect that we’re lucky to have been invited to such a wonderful feast (gratitude)
…take our time and savor the taste of what’s on offer (enjoying the present moment)
…to stuff ourselves sick with food and drink serves no one, least of all our health (gluttony)
…at the end of the meal, it’s rude not to help the host clean up and do the dishes (selflessness)
…next time it’s our turn to host and treat others just as we had been treated (charity)
At family events hosted at one’s home, it is tradition to help clear the table and do the dishes. We have events with friends where we’ll designate different homes to host our gatherings. If we take the time to be grateful for the moment we will not be distracted by those things being passed around the table that we want. They will come to us eventually. And what if that basket of rolls comes to us empty? What if there are no more in the oven? Then we should be thankful for what is on our plate.
Maybe the simple question is this: at a banquet is the food more important than the people? The simple answer is no.