The Smell of a Tuna Fish Sandwich –
My wife came home early from work on Friday. She wasn’t feeling well and had a stomach bug. I’m not a natural caretaker but was able to get her settled in the bed and bring her something to drink with saltine-crackers. She slept most of Friday and Saturday was feeling better. She still wasn’t eating much and when I asked if she would like lunch she opted for a bland bowl of cereal. I, on the other hand, fixed myself a fresh can of tuna, with mayo and pickles. When Beth fixed her cereal I noted she was on the far side of the counter. “What are you doing over there?” I asked. “The smell of your tuna is not helping my stomach!” she replied and told me it was the last thing she ate Friday before getting sick. The smell of my Tuna Fish sandwich was threatening to make her sick again.
Scientists tell us that smell is one of the greatest memory triggers. However, all our senses, particular situations, certain people, can trigger pain, shame, emotional, mental and even physical reactions in us or others. This is why it’s so important making sure we don’t judge or label others who may react differently to events and experiences. The path of their life, which intersects ours, could be fraught with challenges and difficulties we’ve never encountered. Knowing each person has a unique path helps us be aware, accepting, adaptable, and non-judgemental toward each other.
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I sat and talked with a gentleman yesterday about a disappointing experience which had happened to him in recent days. We spoke about turning negatives into positives and how what we might label as “bad” doesn’t have to be a continuing negative experience. “What you do with this extra time, a time you might not have wanted, but have been given will go a long way in shaping the rest of your life. This time is either a blessing or a curse and the choice is yours.”
We underestimate the moments and seasons in our lives that are unwanted and seem to be working against the goals and dreams we have for the present and the future. Wisdom teaches us that every experience can enlighten us, give us knowledge and wisdom, and take us further along the path of life we all are traveling.
This morning, in worship service, the pastor asked; “Who’s rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles tonight? Who’s going for the New England Patriots? Who doesn’t care? Who didn’t know the Superbowl was being played today?” There were hands and voices raised for each question.
Around 120 million people will watch the Superbowl tonight. That’s over a third of the population of this country which is roughly 323 million. Amazing to me that we can watch a football game together but can’t seem to unite over much else. It’s also a surprise the 2/3 of America doesn’t care about the game at all!
I will be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles. I don’t have anything against the Patriots they’ve just won it so many times I think it would be nice to give it to someone else for a change. The coverage for the big game started early this morning. The network broadcasting the Superbowl had a great interview with a Patriot’s receiver, his wife, and children. It was a reminder that individual people, with unique stories, make up the teams.
It’s a shame we don’t remember that when we are attacking others for their political, cultural and religious opinions and beliefs. We cast a large net over those who don’t think like us and label them; “bad” or “good” according to our own fallible judgments.
Maybe, if we could see the individual, listen to their story, discover we’re all trying to make it the best we know how, we would realize when we fight all of us lose.
I was speaking with someone the other day about personalities, quirks, how people behave, why and how we label someone as “__________” and then put them in the cupboards of our mind as if who and what they are have been discovered.
I once interviewed for a job and part of the process was taking a personality test. The label put on me by the test seemed to fit but the more I looked at who I was, the more it seemed not applicable. What’s interesting was the interviewee gave me the job and told me his personality type. However, the longer I worked under him the more certain I became that he had mislabeled himself. Perhaps neither of us were correct but it cemented in my mind how we can label others or ourselves and think the labels tell us more than what only true connection and relationships reveal.
The person I was talking with earlier this week had placed a label on himself long ago and assumed it was a negative trait. I explained to him that most of our traits are neutral and mean a certain way we think or do things. “Don’t let a label define who you are or what you become,” I told him.
Good advice for us all.
Everyone should have a friend who dances to their own music, marches to the beat of their own drummer. These special ones seem to walk a path that others cannot see and probably wouldn’t have the courage to navigate a path so culturally unconceived.
We seemingly live in a world where there are only two sides. These sides are chosen by litmus tests and depending on what you believe, where you stand on the issues, a label is slapped on you and you assume the responsibility and culpability of all others labeled and standing along side you. There is no nuance, no subtleties and we all suffer from it. Vitriol, disdain and hostility are hurled at those on the other side and our cultures are divided seemingly to never be brought together again.
I wonder if there are enough people who would dare to not accept this paradigm, view of life, of others. Are there enough folks who would put aside the expectations and be the exceptions to what our world demands? How many would choose to belong to the community of nuance, walk the road less traveled and dance to the music of the middle?