It occurred to me today as I was trying to find room in the fridge to defrost some chicken for dinner, that life is a lot like a refrigerator. Different thoughts, people and things in your life have different purposes, and each one can only occupy so much real estate in your head before you start running out of room and forget just what you’ve got hidden in the very back. In the fridge, some foods are solid daily staples and you will always make a space for them no matter how much is going on. They are the nourishment that sustains you through any situation. You may need to shift them around as different events create extra dishes that cause more or less congestion, but you always know where to find them and can reach them quickly no matter where you put them. Some things may be oddly shaped or very delicate and easily crushed and need extra space, but they are still incredibly valuable and worth dealing with the extra thought and care they require for both health and enjoyment and are worthy of the extra space they require. Some items are temporary but serve a very specific purpose at a point in life, like a giant pot of gumbo for a Monday night football party. Not all of these temporary items last, but they are exceptionally meaningful and can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Sometimes a friend will surprise you with a dish or a special treat you weren’t prepared for and you’re not sure how to receive it. You don’t just throw such an unexpected gift away, you find room for it.
It’s also possible to fill our lives up with nothing but distraction, which seems easy and fun, but leaves no room for the important things in life that sustain us. Sometimes we forget just how much we have, or we cherish the idea of something too long without actually enjoying or partaking in it (we just sustain ourselves with anticipation instead of actually living) or we take on too much, and things spoil before we can get to them. Nothing we can do can unspoil it, and sometimes it’s our own damn fault the thing went bad. Sometimes we don’t realize that when we prepare to store it it’s already rotten and we just need to get rid of it and stop being mad at the bad break we got forgetting to check the “best by” date before we put it in the basket at the grocery store.
If everything gets jumbled up, it’s not necessarily that we are dirty and unorganized, it may just be that life is continuously changing and we need to be able to shift the constant things around and make room for the things of the moment. We need to learn to be just a bit comfortable in that state of chaos when the refrigerator is stuffed because we’re about to host a dinner party for our dearest friends. We deal with it because we know the temporary chaos is worth it. On the other hand, we can also create chaos so we don’t have to think about that thing we stuffed in the bottom of the drawer that we tried once upon a time to make and perceived as a total failure (rather than a learning experience) and we just don’t want to face it. When we stuff those failures down we’re using up precious space that could be filled with nourishment and creativity and perhaps even a second, victorious batch of that first failed mixture.
Sometimes we realize the temporary things are of such great value they become permanent staples in our daily lives. And just like our refrigerators, every now and then we need to go through and take out the stuff that got fuzzy and doesn’t smell right anymore. Some self-perpetuated thoughts and people are just past their prime, and keeping them around is plain ol’ toxic.
What have you been keeping “past its prime” in your life? What are your “staple items” that sustain you? What new treats have you discovered to add some spice to life?