With the change of the seasons comes a slew of events to Ventura County — one-time events, inaugural happenings and many others that have been around for years. In the coming week, Oxnard begins its eighth annual Restaurant Week, 10 days of discounts at participating restaurants, while Ojai is just merging onto the scene with its own Restaurant Week (See Happenings). The predicament of two Restaurant Weeks in two different cities at the same time may dilute participation for each, but here is some food for thought.
Prior to the Thomas Fire, Montecito mudslides, the Borderline shooting and the Woolsey Fire, very few people impacted by these disasters were considering that it would be the last time they would eat at their own kitchen tables, that it would be the last time they talked to loved ones again. It seems as though most people are living for tomorrow. We are a society told ad nauseam to save money, pay necessary bills and focus on a better future. Meanwhile, the present is being neglected while planning for something better yet to come.
Now imagine if everything we did, all the people we talked to, all the meals we consumed, were appreciated and savored as if it were the last time. Of course, thinking in these terms may cause some sort of panic and anxiety, but imagine, instead of negativity, living in the moment with joy and happiness; treasuring now what is currently offered and available rather than focusing on what has not been provided or failed expectations.
This may seem like a lot of emotion for the average Restaurant Week, but think about regret. Ask yourself: What are you truly saving for while being unhappy today? Can’t there be a better balance between the hope for tomorrow while being fully present to enjoy what is here now? That includes friends, family and food, too.
For Restaurant Week and into 2019, I would like to introduce the idea of the Vagabond Effect.
When it was announced that the longtime comfort food and comforting diner was going to be passed on to new corporate management — to bring, apparently, hip new flair; out with the old familiar faces in exchange for the new — local residents came out in droves to say goodbye to the Vagabond as they knew it. The place was filled for nearly 30 days until closing Jan. 1. Patrons reminisced over Reuben sandwiches and pot roast as well as Belgian waffles and perfect diner coffee. And then just like that, it was over.
But instead of wishing farewell by visiting a favorite locale one last time, maybe we can transfer similar adoration and gratitude to businesses that are doing their best to stay open another day. And life is precious — take advantage of communicating with those in our lives while they are still around. We should be living for today and with hope that tomorrow is going to bring more abundance, but remember that it does take a community to make it all work.
While the rains and flooding are clearly a deterrent to many, focus on how we can be a better, more interconnected community now. Let’s not wait until it’s closing time to enjoy what we have at our fingertips.