Funny how a simple thing can expose a lifetime of conditioning.
And, in this case, it was a silver teaspoon that somehow had escaped from its dark velvety prison with its extended family members tucked away in the buffet. Maybe I’d used the spoon last Christmas and forgotten to put it back. Then, just last week I stumbled across it where it had been buried beneath our bountiful store of everyday flatware spoons which were crammed in the dishwasher waiting for a good cleansing. I picked up this single silver spoon, marveled at its simple yet elegant beauty, closed my eyes, and enjoyed the weight of it in my hand. My head and my heart were flooded with visions of my mother. This was her silverware which she’d kept tucked away for only the most special occasions. This spoon had enjoyed Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter dinners—and scarce Sunday dinners when our family was entertaining out-of-town guests or relatives.
After these sanctioned events, the silverware would once again return into hiding along with the fine bone china. They were replaced, for ordinary days, with indestructible plastic plates and inexpensive, expendable flatware. Those other things, those special touches in life, were reserved only for rare occasions. That’s what I came to believe. And I dutifully continued the tradition after my dear mother died and the coveted wooden box of her silver treasures was placed in my hands.
I stared at the spoon. I asked myself, “What are you waiting for? Live now!”
Suddenly I zoomed into a distant future. Old, failing mobility, and the march of regrets of a life not lived fully. I zoomed back to the present. What kind of craziness was I perpetuating by leaving something so precious locked away for another, more special time? Why the hell was I afraid to make this part of my everyday life? Would I be breaking a tradition or would I be breaking free? “Live now!” The command was immediate. And within minutes the extended family of mom’s silver legacy came out of hiding and into the kitchen drawer for everyday use. And, I got a good chuckle when the velvet box became home to our faithful stainless steel flatware. Bye bye!
I’ve lived so much of my life focused on an ideal future state.
Too many times I discarded the now, always rushing ahead.
As a young whippersnapper, I saw nothing but an endless highway of time. I had little motivation to challenge the status quo and take a hard look at how I was treating the only reality there was, the present moment, and whether I was infusing it with reverence.
Moving to Italy was my big “Live Now” moment!
So, I can’t say I’ve been a total fraidy cat when it comes to carpe diem. But, when I moved my worldly belongs across the Atlantic, I also moved much of my old conditioning. It’s taken me a few years, and Italy’s influence, to change many of my habits and ways of thinking. And, there comes a warning with that: when you start moving around the furniture of your life and when you start questioning your values. When you say “Live now!” things can get a little messy—especially with other people who get a bit cranky as you step out the script everyone has been following. Your stepping out the norm somehow seems to challenge their norm.
Go ahead, bring out the sterling silver!
Of course, I’m speaking more metaphorically than literally even though this post is about how a silver teaspoon brought me to my senses. What is the “silver spoon” that you’re not enjoying? What are the things that you are putting off for a more-deserving day? For many people, that day seems to keep moving further and further out, so much that many never make it to “that” day. You’ve heard the stories.
And, leave regrets by the wayside.
I easily could suffocate under a mountain of missed opportunities. I could beat myself up for eternity for not wisening up to what has been right in front of me. Both are the converse of rushing ahead to a future state.
“Regret is useless in life. It’s all in the past. All we have is now.” — Marlon Brando
A final story…
Again, this comes from my mom, who had an incredible collection of what she called her “demitasse” cups. These delicate “half cups” lived almost entirely on the top shelf in her china cabinet. I think I saw her use them half a dozen times at most. Frankly, I didn’t pay them much attention growing up. To me, they were extraneous, mere decorations. But, when she died, I was already living in Italy. So, as we were packing up her house, I saw these diminutive coffee cups in a new light. “Espresso cups!” I realized. I brought several back to Italy and ever since they’ve been making up for a lifetime of inaction. And, every time I pull a shot of espresso in one of these cups, I thank and remember Mom!
And, a final quote…
If you’ve not seen the movie “Auntie Mame” with Rosalind Russell, I highly encourage you to watch it. It’s a classic.
“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” — Auntie Mame.