Terrific Tuesday

November18

Today is “Terrific Tuesday” at Nandos Pizza Inn in Nairobi. That means for every pizza you buy, you get one for free! This sweet deal usually has pizza lovers queuing at the Nandos Pizza Inn’s Moi Avenue outlet till late at night.

I can’t quite remember the first time I tasted pizza, though it is not very many years ago. I remember looking at it and observing that the legendary pizza that I had heard so much about is simply a bread-like crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings such as sausage or olive. However, I clearly remember the taste of the pineapple pieces embedded in the Hawaiian pizza, and my surprise that such an ingredient could be used in cooked food.

Since then, I have often wondered, “What would pizza be without the bread-like base?” The answer to that question usually comes in a very unexpected way. Have you ever seen or heard of a person who seems to have everything – wealth, beautiful spouse, bright kids, enviable career – and yet appears deeply unhappy? That person would seem to be missing something that in not visible to the naked eye. Something that only he or she can feel, and that has been ambiguously described by many people as a “hole” or “void” or “emptiness”.

What is it that misses in the “hole”, “void”, or “emptiness”? I tend to think it is love. The kind of love that I am talking about is the one that is so basic that it is easily ignored, yet so important that we cannot really appreciate life without it. It is that which makes us love ourselves, love our neighbors and love God. It is that which enables us to accept ourselves unconditionally no matter what our external circumstances are. It is that which enables us to accept our neighbors no matter how different they are from us. It is that which enables us to accept God’s grace and appreciate the myriad of things that He has done for us. This love is as critical to life’s fulfillment as the bread-like crust that creates the base of pizza.

“What would pizza be without the bread-like base?” It would be ingredients – cheese, oregano, egg, sausage, salami, garlic, capsicum, olive – and not pizza. A relationship without this “love” is simply a red hot sack of passion that burns itself out sooner or later and leaves the couple wondering how they “fell out of love”. Wealth without this “love” results in the kind of money that can buy a ‘Bed but not sleep Food but not appetite A house but not a home’. A career without this “love” results in a cranky larger-than-life boss who is very alone at the top of his corporate ladder. A family without this kind of “love” results in a violent parent parent; one that causes the kids to sneak into their rooms in suppressed terror as soon as he gets home.

And yet with this “love” it does not matter whether we have “someone” or not, whether we are wealthy or not, whether we have a job or not, or whether we fit in the society or not. Neither is it the kind of love that you can find – especially not from someone else. If you find the “right person” and you lack this “love” inside you already, the relationship might be as illusory as having a pound of mozzarella cheese and no bread base and still expect to come up with pizza.

With this “love” we are bound to have a terrific Tuesday whether there is a Nandos Pizzeria in out town or not.

Have a terrific Tuesday!