It has been months since I was last in China. Last night I met a friend for dinner in the same restaurant in the same city as before. We came into the hotel in the same order. We sat at the same table. We were the only diners in the restaurant, which again was a replay of my earlier experience. Everything was the same, even the waitress. The only thing that ended up different was the food we ordered.
As I listened to our waitress, “May I help you,” I got to thinking about my answer. If I said yes, which I did, what did I expect to follow. If she did help me, something would be different, if only the fact that it meant that I had a menu in my hand. Help involves doing something. It implies that there will be more to what already is.
The scene we were walking into felt like a movie set. Everything was in its place. We, as character actors, had a role to play. While the words would play out, nothing would really change. In the end, we would walk out and everything would return to the way it was.
My imagination replayed the scene with changes, lots of them. People were sitting at most if not all of the tables. There was little choice in where we could sit. The menu was only in Chinese. In the back corner, there was a piano and singer bringing us jazz standards. The words “may I help you” took on a very different meaning. I did not know where to sit. I had no idea what the menu offered me. I could not imagine the possibilities.
It was an excellent dinner. I tried new dishes. I took the help offered by everyone involved and the experience was wonderful.
My imagination continues to wander; what would happen if I accepted all the help offered me? I’m left with one writer experience; “God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together.” (Psalm 30.2) Nothing would be the same.