Category Archives: both/and

Feast or Famine


I’ve never been in a famine. But I’ve been to plenty of feasts. I come from a large extended family, and for many years there were 60 or so of us who gathered in my grandmother’s large home at Thanksgiving. Ah, those were the days. Eventually, all the cousins started having their own children and then grandchildren, and the different branches of the family divided the gatherings into smaller groups. Many of the people who gathered in those rooms are no longer alive, but the memories will never fade.

Feast or Fast

“Feast or famine” is a phrase that actually started out as “feast or fast.” Those two phrases strike me as remarkably different. “Feast or fast” sounds like two contrasting actions, where “feast or famine” sounds like two contrasting conditions. With my focus on the concept of acceptance this month, I will be looking at “feast or famine” as two conditions we find ourselves in quite often.

I have alluded to my previous all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking. Therefore, feast or famine to me meant either-or. Either I have more than I need, or I don’t have enough. Either I have too much to do, or I don’t have anything to do. That has to do with my perception of what a famine actually is. Again with the b/w thinking, I always think of a famine as a time where there is no, not any, none at all, food. But a famine actually happens in a drought, or when a crop fails, and causes a scarcity of food.

What does it mean?

So, how does acceptance work with this phrase, feast or famine?

I know I prefer to have more than enough, than not enough. Isn’t it interesting to consider, though, when I have more than enough of something, I often have less than enough of something else?

Too much time on my hands? Not enough social interactions with people.
Too many social engagements on my calendar? Not enough downtime.
Too much food to eat? Not enough ability to utilize the food as fuel.

Perception and Acceptance

Therefore, the feast and the famine are often simply my perception. There are people in the world who clearly are dealing with famine of the food kind, and it’s not their perception. For the rest of us, it’s rare that we utter feast or famine in regard to food.

I can imagine a mindset where I welcome the feasts as well as the famines, recognizing that neither of them can possibly last forever because of, if I may, the laws of thermodynamics, as applied to physical conditions. A mindset where I lean into the fullness of the feast and the leanness of the famine.


Currently, I’m in a feast of resources, opportunities, books, and inspiration; certainly a type of freedom that many do not have. I’m also in a famine of another type of freedom that many do have. In understanding that feast or famine is a simplified way of saying that we have both feast and famine rolling past us all the time, I accept the areas of feasting and the areas of famine. As soon as I accept them, I can begin to notice if I want any less of the feast, or any more of the famine.

What feasts and famines are present in your life that are asking for acceptance?