Benjamin Franklin said, “Our Constitution is now established. Everything seems to promise it will be durable; but in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
I often think about how wise our Founding Fathers were—that they could write a document which has stood for hundreds of years, and when changes need to be made, the document can be amended.
I hesitate to say that I disagree with Mr. Franklin, but as I get older, I have come to understand there are other certainties of life in addition to death and taxes.
Here are a few:
- Change will happen
- Things will come to an end
- You will have disagreements and conflict
- You will succeed sometimes, and you will fail sometimes
- People will always surprise you (in both good and bad ways)
- Opportunities will be missed
- Letting go is hard
- Getting old happens
- Nothing ever stays the same
Lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about time. There’s never enough of it; it is fleeting; it is always looking over my shoulder reminding me to do the important things. It marches on.
A couple of years ago, early one morning when I was walking across the parking lot at work, I spotted something odd. It was a spoon. It was next to the curb on a sidewalk. There was nothing else around. Just a lost spoon.
The first time I saw it, I laughed, thinking of various scenarios as to how the spoon landed in that exact place. I didn’t give it another thought, until the next time I laid my eyes on the spoon. It was then and there that I decided this is a spoon with a story.
Days, weeks, and months passed, and another school year began for me and the spoon. In an odd way, we were friends. The spoon had been something I could count on. It was always there; always reminding me that everyone has a story to tell. That everyone has a purpose. That there is a reason for everything.
At this point, you might think I’m crazy, and that’s okay because that spoon made me think about things in a different way. Each morning when I intentionally walked by the spoon, I thought about its symbolic purpose: It was more than just a utensil used for eating. For me, it was a reminder of the hunger many students feel each day. Not necessarily from lack of food, but from not being noticed, or the need for too much attention. As a counselor, it is my job to help teach students to deal with insecurities and the things that don’t fulfill their lives, or fill them in negative ways.
Several times I almost took my phone out of my bag to photograph my friend, the spoon. I kept thinking about its story, and how every morning, no matter my state of mind, no matter the stress or burdens from heavy things weighing me down, the spoon was there. It was reliable. It was consistent. It was waiting to fulfill a purpose. It was laying there day after day, unable to do the one thing it was meant to do. Feed people.
And every day, since the spoon couldn’t do its job, I tried to take its place feeding people. To nourish them with the good and kind things of the world. To fill them up with hope, and ambition, and confidence.
After months of pondering why the spoon came into my life, I finally understood. I need to be more like a spoon. Forks have the same end goal—to feed people. But they are sharp, and sometimes jagged. They are used to stab the food so it can be picked up and then eaten. Forks have a purpose, but by nature, they can be hurtful, unlike a spoon which has smooth edges and brings joy and happiness into our lives through soothing foods like soup, and ice cream, and pudding.
As you can see, I have been invested in this spoon metaphor. And maybe I’ve given it too much thought. But each day, no matter what, the spoon reminded me the importance of being there.
And then one day it wasn’t. It was a Monday morning, and as usual, I was there before any other cars in the parking lot. I walked my usual route, and when I got to the sidewalk and looked down at the curb for the spoon, which in this season had been covered by fallen leaves and wasn’t as easily seen. I walked past the spot, and then did a double take. The spoon wasn’t there. I placed my shoe on top of the leaves and moved them around, but to no avail. The spoon was gone. After a year-and-a-half, it had vanished.
At this point you might be getting phone numbers ready to send me for this obvious cry for help. Hopefully you understand, it’s not about the actual spoon. It’s about the things I learned from an inanimate object that was out of place. It’s about consistency, and reliability, and knowing that something will be there. Knowing it could be counted on.
My first thought about the spoon that left too soon was that of regret. I wished I had taken a picture. I knew I would eventually write about my friend the spoon, but now I don’t have a photo to share. Just the memories and blessings of the daily reminders to fulfill my purpose; to feed the hungry; to see beauty where there is none.
There are so many lessons to be learned from this. So many metaphors, and possible stories. But what resounds over and over in my mind is the swiftness in which time passes. We always think we have another day, or week, or year. We put off things we should do, thinking there will always be time for them later. We take things and people for granted.
In my quest for things I can count on, I have been reminded countless times to take each day slowly. To make the most of it. To say what needs to be said. To apologize, or compliment, or inspire. Everyone needs to feel special. Everyone wants to be loved.
During the season of the spoon, I decided to write a letter to my mother. She knows I love her. She knows I appreciate her. But it’s still nice to hear it, or in this case read it. The letter was a thank you note for all she has done for me. It was a letter of love to a mother from her daughter. It was a way to say things that might be too difficult to voice, simply because of the intense degree of emotion these words would evoke.
Since writing the letter, I walk more lightly. My heart is fuller, and I won’t ever have to live with the regret of leaving things unsaid. There’s a whole book about that…
Each day, I try not to take things for granted, but I depend on the things I can count on. I like knowing they will be there.
In addition to the spoon, I have something else that makes me feel safe and warm.
Something you may or may not know about me is that I have a plethora of cardigan sweaters. I have almost every color: beige, grey, navy blue, light blue, maroon, purple, black, and golden yellow (that sounds better than mustard yellow). I wear one of the sweaters just about every day. I go back and forth, inside and outside, into cold or hot rooms. The sweaters are light enough that they are comfortable in almost any climate.
My sweaters have become somewhat of a joke, but they are something people count on. Sweaters are my thing.
Last year, the weather was cool on Field Day. I was at the gate signing parents in and out, and of course, I was wearing my beige sweater. The day warmed up, and I eventually shed the sweater. At the end of the day, when I was getting my things together to go home, I realized I didn’t have my sweater. I walked back to the football field and went around the track. It wasn’t there. I was almost in a panic. I mean, it was my beige sweater. The sweater that can go with just about anything.
I went back to car rider duty feeling defeated. My principal asked what was wrong and I told her I lost my sweater. She said, “Your beige one?” I replied yes, and she said, “Well, I found a beige sweater on the track, and picked it up. I didn’t think it was yours because you never take it off!” We have laughed numerous times about that, and each day I’m prepared for a sweater comment.
A couple of weeks ago I was in a classroom teaching a guidance lesson. It was a Wednesday, so I was dressed in jeans, a Raider shirt, and of course, my matching Columbia blue sweater. In the middle of the lesson, a second grade girl raised her hand. Thinking she had something interesting to share about the lesson, I called on her.
Then she asked: “Are you wearing your FAVORITE sweater today?”
It was then and there that I realized I have a problem. Since then, I’ve tried to shake things up and wear another jacket, but it’s not the same. My sweaters are comfortable. They make me feel good. They are familiar.
As I reflect on the young lady’s question, I understand something. To the students, I’m Familiar and Comfortable. And I make others feel good. So not only am I a spoon, I’m also a sweater. Consistent. Reliable. And loved.
“What about the book?” you might ask.
Well, Getting Hitched is finally out in paperback. I’ve posted on Facebook and Instagram, but I haven’t put the usual fanfare into publicizing it. I’m proud of it, and think the story needed to be finished. A Southern Girl Re-Belles introduced you to Abbie and Bo, but it didn’t answer what happened with them. Getting Hitched does.
This is the fourth book I’ve published, and like the spoon and the sweater, the writing and publishing process has taught me so much. Mainly, that I’ve done it all wrong. I have reconciled myself to the fact that none of my books will be widely read. They won’t be best-sellers. They won’t be made into movies (Personally, I think ASGR and GH would make a perfect series on any streaming platform).
Please don’t think I’m having a pity party. Like the dependable spoon, and the comfortable sweater, writing for me is personal. It’s not about success, or money. It’s simply doing something I love. Yes, if something big happened with one of my books, I would be well pleased. But at the end of the day, I’m happy, and proud of myself for following through and becoming a writer. In many ways, it is who I am, and who I’ve always been. I just didn’t dedicate myself to it until later in life.
Like the sweater, the spoon, and the book, we all have a story to tell. Take the time to write things down about your family. Record and video family stories. Organize your photos. Write your story every day through your actions, words, and deeds.
And if you so choose, order my book(s). You can read Getting Hitched by itself, but you will learn so much more about Abbie Winchester’s redemption and her search for Happily-Ever-After if you read A Southern Girl Re-Belles first.
Thanks for your encouragement and support. If you read my books, I hope you’ll write a review, and also share them with friends.
Now, go forth and be a spoon, a sweater, and a book. Tell your story. Make a difference. Leave a legacy.