Saturday night found me at the grocery store with my Dad. It’s funny to see the grocery stores of Utah swell to nearly bursting on a Saturday night in preparation for a shop-free Sabbath. It can be stressful to be there at that time, but usually you can’t help it and to be honest, the lines sort of please me because they represent a lot of people doing their best to truly set aside a day for the Lord. That or it’s just a bunch of people on snack runs for their Saturday night festivities.
We walked in and immediately found ourselves in the produce section, and I saw my Dad walk right up to some cantaloupe and begin pressing in their stems and smelling them trying to select the ripest ones. I had just heard two ladies on a bus the day before enthusiastically discussing the best methods of cantaloupe selection and it made me wonder at what point he learned that. Do those two ladies on the bus remember the day that someone taught them the opinion that they now so strongly expressed to one another as their own on the subject?
Perhaps you’ve heard of a play called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. It is a play that essentially retells the story of Hamlet from the point of view of his two best friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who show up in the original play hardly at all. The two have dialogue that is rich with wit though they both seem, at moments, to be total imbeciles. There is a moment when Rosencrantz is musing to himself and says:
Whatever came of the moment when one first knew about death?
There must have been one, a moment in childhood when it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one’s memory. And yet, I can’t remember it. It never occurred to me at all.
Obviously we know that we do go on forever, but it’s true that our time in this mortal sphere will someday end, perhaps tragically or abruptly. Rosencrantz is right in thinking such a realization must have been devastating and yet it was apparently totally unmemorable because I can’t recall such a moment for myself.
Where was the moment where we first formed the paradigms that so stringently govern our lives? Perhaps you remember some learning moments. They become burned into you by the humiliation of not having known in a very public way. Once in a game of catch phrase with my family I got the word “hanky-panky” and promptly began to say “you put your right foot in, you put your right foot out---“ the room quickly filled with shouts of “the hokey pokey!?” and then I realized that that was the phrase that I meant and it wasn’t the phrase in front of me. I’ll never forget the difference between the two again believe you me.
When did I pick up the knowledge I have? Where did I learn the skills I use often and sometimes teach others to use? Where was the moment? It is perhaps as simple as going through life and constantly collecting until you become a mosaic of experiences that individually weren’t important enough to remember, but together make up the person that you are.
I’m learning though that not all the pieces of the mosaic are a strength to who I want to become and not all the paradigms that I work from have an origin that’s worth honoring.
Whenever I’m in a situation where someone asks if I’ve been in love before, I promptly say ‘yes.’ When they ask if I’ve ever had my heartbroken, the answer is a definite ‘yesssss.’ But if the situation is private and the inquisitive person asks for more information on either my great love or its tragic end, I really can’t pinpoint the relevant moment. I’m not quite sure who I was in love with or how my heart was broken. I love very freely and it’s often disappointingly unreciprocated, but I carry a history of heartache inside of myself that I don’t believe has any real origin.
Whatever came of the moment when one first decided that they were broken? There’s a term in psychology called ‘confirmation bias’ where someone tends to favor or only collect the information that favors what he or she already believes to be true. If pressed, I can collect a myriad of supporting points for my life as a total loser, but I could also establish a compelling argument for a lifetime of astonishing volumes of love and validation that confirm that I’m sort of something special.
Which supporting paragraphs do you lean on for your life’s central argument?
I’ve learned to argue very vehemently for why I’ll most likely meet rejection in very crucial aspects of my life. I tell it with feeling like those women discussing the best way to differentiate between ripe and unworthy cantaloupe. I use logic as though, like these women, I am harking back to moments where someone I trusted told me so or I have a lifetime of data to confirm my hypothesis. I’m defending a fiction. I am depending not on moments that were important but are no longer in my memory, I’m depending on moments that never were.
Shocking to discover that the things you really thought you knew, may in fact be totally false. But I’m discovering more and more that if you believe in any inherent worthlessness about yourself, you’re wrong. You are the child of a God. The thing that I know that I know is that He’s the only one that can help us defeat corrupted logic and His spirit can fill our moments and give us new truth about ourselves to work from and new hope for the potential the was always there.
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