Inside looking out: A spoonful of life
Rich welcomes guest columns written by readers. He will assist in the writing and editing process. Please send your idea to the email address at the bottom. Today’s column was submitted by Sharon Oswald Main of Andreas.
Several months ago, my dad stopped at the local diner for breakfast. It was a particularly busy morning and there was only one server on duty. As usual, he drank his coffee a while before he was served his meal. He noticed he was never given a fork or knife. My dad, who has not one finicky bone in his body, proceeded to eat his food with his spoon. After noticing this, the server apologized and asked him why he didn’t say anything. He brushed it off and replied with a smile, “A spoon is the universal utensil.” I would not have expected any other response from him.
You’ve heard the phrases, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Unforeseen things happen to us. Some are life-changing, like a major illness or a job loss. Some are minor misfortunes in our everyday life such as getting behind a slow driver when you’re late for work or spilling your coffee on your clothing.
The major events certainly can shake us to the core. These are the times that make or break us. But we have what we need. We just don’t know it at the time because our minds are clouded with worry and anxiety about what is to come. Although the minor misfortunes that ensue do not take such a toll, they can be irritating and even stress us out. We should be able to brush them off with ease.
If you are like me, no matter how small the mishap, at first you will see a mountain instead of molehill. Then, for a moment, your mind may tell you to make the best of it, but you quickly give in to the anxiety. At some point things start to turn themselves around and something good comes out of it all. The illness makes you stronger in spirit, the job loss helps you realize you really can do with less and the slow driver helps you avoid an accident. So, the only thing to do is accept what happens and make do with what you are given.
Do you ever feel that what you have isn’t enough? Do you always want more? How many times do you stop and think, “Do I really need this or is it more a want? Can I do with less for now?”
You think anything less than that top-paying job won’t do or that large four-bedroom house is a must even though the mortgage is beyond your means. And the latest and greatest cellphone is tempting you. When you have the funds, want always seems to trump need.
The Rolling Stones sing, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.” Learning to differentiate between want and need is not easy.
And our want always seems to be immediate. In today’s society, with everything at our fingertips, we are conditioned to have everything instantaneously. But the best way is to start small and make do with what you have now. Then you slowly inch upward toward your goal.
We know there is a bottom rung and there’s a top rung to every ladder. It’s the in between that counts; that time of blood, sweat and tears. On the bottom rung, you get your ears wet and when you climb higher, each rung you learn a little more. Sometimes, you get set back a rung or two. Those times call for perseverance and improvisation. Other times you seem to zoom higher at a fast pace. It’s those in between times that help you grow and learn and experience what life is like. You take that experience and make it work for you. And during those times, you try not to live beyond your means.
Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami said, “You make do with what you have. As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have.”
I must agree. Learning to count your blessings comes with wisdom, and wisdom comes with age.
My dad learned many of life’s lessons as a young boy working on his family farm and he knows the value of a dollar. He started small. He never had a brand-new car and he doesn’t live beyond his means. He doesn’t let things get him stressed. So, that’s why eating at the diner using a spoon didn’t faze him. He did what he could with what he was given.
Rich Strack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.