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Friday, May 25, 2012

Beyond the Nuts

I was reading a magazine recently and a couple of articles really caught my attention.

These articles addressed two things I've been thinking a lot about lately,
namely Wisdom and Marriage.

I'm going to address the marriage one later.

But wisdom.. let's talk about it.

When I was young, my parents used to say things that I sometimes understood and sometimes didn't.
One that makes me laugh now is the one my Dad used to say:
"Do you want a knuckle sandwich?"

As a dim little kid, I was completely oblivious to the implied threat,
although I was smart enough (and sensitive enough to tone and circumstance!)
to vigorously shake my head and say "No!"

Now, of course, I realized that I was (teasingly, hopefully!) being offered a punch in the mouth!
Other jewels included "Stop crossing your eyes, they'll get stuck like that!" which I totally didn't believe until one day I saw a kid walking around with crossed eyes.
Or how about "Better not stick your lip out like that or a bird might sh!t on it!"
Then there's the often repeated "And if (he/she/they) jump off a bridge, are you going to do it too?"

The article I was reading, "Choose Your Words Carefully" from the May 2012 edition of Southern Living, had me laughing, remembering and nodding. Some of these I have heard before, some I hadn't, but they all rang strong and true to me:

"Mistakes are a fact of life. It's what you learn from them that counts."
(This one really resonates because parents now, me included, spend an awful lot of time making sure our kids DON'T experience mistakes.. and quite possibly in doing so are keeping them from learning valuable lessons.)

"Good manners will often take you where neither money nor education can."

"Courtesy is owed. Respect is earned. Love is given."

 "My mother always said that if you don't like the nuts, it's okay to spit them out, but the rest of a pecan pie was too good to miss. This philosophy has been my guiding light." (Paula Poundstone, Alabama.)
 The point of the one above is to go beyond the surface, to find the hidden good, the diamond in the rough. There's a lot about life in that idea. There are a great many treasures to be found just below the surface. Often people build up a thick layer of "nuts" to cover their soft, gooey insides.. and often some of those nuts can be quite rancid, can't they? But given time and effort, the good stuff is revealed.

So there you have it. The dawning realization that to slow down, notice things. Take the time to extend kindness and offer compassion when someone is showing you their "nutty" exterior.  Relishing the experience, the reflection, the lessons.

It's all good.

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