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Welcome to Mind Over Legal Matter where we approach Florida Bar Essays one mindful step at a time!

I always jokingly say that my son is my spiritual master. He is 5 years old (going on 30) and he makes the most profound statements.

Like me, he cares deeply about animals, the environment, and people.

At only 5 years old, he asks me philosophical questions about life, what is heaven like (where grandma is), what would it be like to live on the moon or mars, the purpose of life in general (i.e. are we supposed to work on the computer all day?), and how can we be of service to others (how do we stop others from littering, how do we get other people to recycle, etc)!

So this moment was especially insightful for me….

Let me start by saying that even though we love all animals, our family still eats some (ethically raised) meat in our diet.

However, apparently my son has been thinking about our diet and recently asked me and his dad if he could be vegan. Yes, vegan!

He told me that he does not feel comfortable eating animals anymore and that the animals themselves do not want to be eaten.

He also went on to explain that if we do not let him be vegan, he would be comfortable being a pescatarian (as a compromise)!

I was intrigued with his request and wanted him to feel heard.  So I asked him, well, let’s talk about this.

Do you want to eat plants only, just like the long-neck dinosaurs? Weren’t they herbivores and only ate plants?

And he responded, oh yes, they were herbivores, and only ate plants.

And so I pressed on and asked, what about our dog? Is he an herbivore?

And my son said, no, no, no, he is not an herbivore, he is a carnivore. He is like the T-rex, he eats meat, but he doesn’t eat other dogs, like the T-rex ate other dinosaurs (Is this even true? I had no idea that the T-rex ate other dinosaurs! Ha!)

So then what does that make us? Are we herbivores or carnivores? I inquired, knowing the answer was neither.

And he said, we are “arnivores” (omnivores)

So that means we can eat meat, right? I said.

He quickly replied, yes, we can eat meat and plants because we’re arnivores and we have teeth that can cut both meat and plants.

So I asked him, if God made us omnivores, then why should we be vegan? If we are meant to eat both plants and meat, and God gave us teeth to eat either, then why vegan?

He said “because God wants us to be able to choose”

And as this often happens, his answer made me cry!!

I thought to myself, wow, so he basically just educated me on free will and how God respects our free will. And how we always have the power to make a choice on how we want to live our lives.

It started off as mommy’s teachable moment for him, but then ended up in the reverse. He used it as a teachable moment for ME.

Upon later reflection, I also realized that my son was asking to be vegan, and never once requested that the whole family eat a vegan diet. I thought this was remarkable, because that means that there was no JUDGMENT involved.

He wasn’t trying to change how we eat  – if anything, he wanted to lead by example and express to us that he has a choice.

So, I say to you, my friends – who is YOUR “spiritual master”? Who or what inspires you to think about or reflect on your life, your decisions, and how all of our decisions affect the environment and the world in general? And how can we use love to guide us in all of our decisions?

And of course, the spiritual master doesn’t have to be what we stereotypically envision a spiritual guru to look like, it could be as simple as our children, or even our pets.

Pets love us unconditionally; they never stay mad at us, and look at us with so much love in their eyes. They live in the present and love is behind their every move.  What does that teach us about love? And how can we use love to guide us in all of our decisions?

Finding peace starts with one simple step. Allow yourself to take that first step today and continue to build upon it. The life you’ve always dreamed of begins NOW.