Or a salad. Or fresh cracked Dungeness crab. Or perhaps an artichoke.
I actually know people who won’t eat artichokes a leaf at a time, or Dungeness crab, because it’s “messy” or “tedious”. I know people who slice their spaghetti up into itty, bitty, tiny bits to avoid the messiness of the nature of the noodle, why do they even eat spaghetti? I know others who chop their salad greens up into unrecognizable bits of vegetation with a knife before putting them into the salad bowl. Because it’s too hard to eat otherwise. Ah, not me! I twirl my spaghetti around my fork, use a big spoon as a “backstop”, then I shove it in my mouth before too much of it unravels. What does unravel, I manage to either slurp up or bite off for the next fork full. I crack crab for an hour, create my huge pile of awe and envy, then eat gloriously for thirty seconds. And start over. My salads are whole leaves of spinach and arugula, all irregular in size and shape, and I wad them up under my fork tines, pierce them into submission, then cram them into my mouth. I peel each leaf off the artichoke, swipe it through melted butter or homemade mayonnaise, just to make it sloppier, then rake the meaty side of the leaf against the back of my lower teeth. Messy? Sure! That’s what napkins are for!
Life is messy, too, but oh so good! Without the messiness, life wouldn’t be delicious, it would be plain, ordinary, non-descript, like a bologna sandwich, you know, the school lunch variety; two pieces of pathetic, sliced, white, grocery store bread and a thin slab of rubbery, pale, meat-like stuff. Add some bright yellow mustard and call it exciting, you might think, but I’ll pass, thanks. If I were going to eat a bologna sandwich, I’d go to a delicatessen, have them carve off a thick slab of real, authentic bologna. I’d eat it on a piece of crusty sourdough with a slice of exotic cheese, a slice of tomato, perhaps some avocado, and some organic greens. Bits of greens, crumbs of cheese, and tomato juice would tumble back to the table with every bite. The avocado and tomato eventually will squirt out the side and fall to my plate. I’d pick them up with my fingers, had I not a fork, and eat them. It would be messy, but, oh, so good!
When is life ever under control, certain, predictable and easy? Never. Right? And why would you want it to be? That’s an Oscar Myer bologna and Wonder bread sandwich kind of life. I want drippy butter and, crazy long noodles and marinara sauce and hard to manage mouthfuls of greens! I want experiences that challenge me, frighten me, cause me to think, learn, grow! Life is full of messiness; careers, relationships, finances, health, the economy, politics, war, weather, travel. Some of it is “good”, some is perceived as “bad”. And it is precisely the perception that is the difference between a messy, glorious life or a plain sandwich life. You decide.
My life is far from perfect. Isn’t that wonderful? Friends, family, relatives, co-workers, acquaintances all ask me, “how’s it going with this messy problem?” or “what’s happening with that messy problem?” Sometimes they add well meaning, “supportive” statements like, “isn’t life tedious?” And I come unhinged.
No! I love my messy problems! Each and every one of them! I am grateful for them! I am even thankful for the circumstances that led to my messy problems! I am 100% serious! They are part of who I am. They shape me and strengthen me and change me in ways I couldn’t manufacture if I had to. They have taught me to see that everything in life is crazy, unpredictable, chaos, and without all the messiness, I’d be a fraction of who I am. Every experience, every issue, every problem, I see as a blessing. They are opportunities to overcome and to change. I meet them all headlong, like the carved wooden maiden on the prow of the ship, no matter the weather or the waves, I am lovely, sturdy and smiling, and, yes, even if the ship goes down, I’ll endure, taking in a view that only mermaids have the blessing to admire.
Glass half full? Step aside, I drink from the bottle and when it’s empty, I open another!
Tedious, indeed. How sad to go through life fearing every phone call, every piece of mail, the news on TV, seeing everything as tedium, something that must be endured, thinking that life is just that way, a chore, a problem, a crisis. Or clinging to the misguided notion that once this tedious situation passes, life will be all bologna sandwichy goodness again. And then you’re dead. And someone is left with the tedium of your final arrangements.
Relish in today. Relish in the moment. Enjoy doing dishes. Enjoy traffic. Enjoy jury duty. Enjoy a house fire, you were tired of your old furniture and all that clutter anyway. Enjoy whatever you’re doing right this very minute. The alternative is to not enjoy it, right? Whatever it is, is part of your moment, your day, your life. Why would you choose not to enjoy some part of your life? Add up all those parts of your life you don’t enjoy and the sum looks pretty scary. I’m guessing the sum of the parts of every day you think are chores, or are tedious is greater than the sum of the parts of your day you think are fantastic. Whoa.
Enjoy the journey back to health after an illness or an injury. Think of the things you’ll be able to do that you probably took for granted before. Take a terminal diagnosis and use it as a “reason” to see family and friends, to visit, to travel, to experience. Chances are you were putting it all off until all those messy little problems cleared up, anyway. They seem pretty insignificant in that light, now, don’t they?
Life and all its messiness.
Take your fork, twirl the pasta around the tines, use a big spoon to hold it all on there, and lift it to your mouth. Slurp up the noodles that unravel, savor the flavor, the texture. Grab your napkin and dab demurely. Repeat. That’s what I’m talking about.