How do we illuminate the souls of people and places?
"I want to be a better listener… So, the stories can be better told themselves.”
The morning I watched Pati Jinich’s documentary on the US-Mexico border coincided with a jarring decision being made in our country. It’s the reason that I remained hopeful amidst the news. La Frontera is a manifestation of Pati’s mission to share the souls of people and places and the food that brings us together. That morning, it was also a lesson on the hope we inspire when we focus on the best in who we are.
As a revered chef, cookbook author, and TV host, Pati illustrates how each of our journeys contributes to our collective vitality. I was curious how she unearths stories that unite us in “our human fiber.” Her answer surprised me…
“I used to think that it was the questions you asked that would lead people to share more of their stories. Now, I'm realizing that it's the silences that you allow that let the person share. Sometimes just nodding your head or saying, tell me more, is much more meaningful than finding the right insightful question.
I used to put so much pressure on: What's the right question to lead this person to tell me this part of their story? You realize that you can't lead it. You have to let go.
As the years go by, that’s my main goal: I want to be a better listener. Ironically, I think that’s going to allow me to tell better stories. So, the stories can be better told themselves.”
These stories, told over 11 seasons of Pati’s Mexican Table, offer a glimpse into our shared humanity. This is what they've taught her about what we’re all really seeking…
“We're all on a hunt for meaning. There are so many things that are beyond our human understanding that we grapple with. No one has it fully resolved…There’s that common denominator where food comes in as a savior. We all need to eat and feed the people we love in order to nurture them and survive. It's where we can connect.
So, what do I wish we knew about each other? We are all the same. We can be compassionate towards each other because we're all living the same challenge here….When you're dealing with anybody, you're dealing with somebody just like you. So, how do you want to be treated? That’s how you want to treat the person next to you.”
This week, let’s embrace Pati’s invitation to intentionally listen during a meal with a loved one. What might you learn about the meaning they’re seeking when you do?