It is important to pay attention to the world around us and keep a close eye out for the clues and crumbs that lead us to an understanding of how to better navigate the world. I love a good life lesson. That’s what this blog is all about! However, as I live life, I am learning that a great life lesson is not always learned the hard way or even through a great struggle. Sometimes, life lessons are found in the silver linings, the fumbles, and even the humor.
It’s fun to find lessons in odd places because it keeps us laughing, positive, and optimistic. I learned two valuable life lessons when my father was tasked with making me and my brother a sandwich when I was around 9 or 10 years old.
Ok, so my father is literally the most innovative and ingenious person I know. This man can fix anything, with anything, in any place. The most amazing part about it is that he does not have any sort of formal engineering degree but he can still solve a problem like no one I have ever encountered. The end product may not always look beautiful, but it is functional and normally working again.
The man is a genius and can solve almost any problem he has ever been presented with except this one small task my mother left for him to do: to make my brother and me a sandwich!
It was a Saturday and my mother had gone to work for the day. One of my brothers and I were going to be the only kids in the house for the day. My mother didn’t have time to make food in advance like she normally does, so she asked my Dad to make us a sandwich for lunch. Now, it is important to note that my Caribbean parents mostly ate home-cooked food and rarely ate out when I was younger. My mom would branch out and experiment, but not Dad. So, American deli sandwiches were not high on his list back then!
I waltzed down into the kitchen for the yummy sandwich that I had complete faith my dad was capable of making. He is generally a good cook, so I was pretty excited. Upon entering the kitchen, the four slices of bread were already neatly assembled on the kitchen table. There were two for me and two for my brother.
He began to make the sandwich.
He added peanut butter, jelly, cheese…
Me (in shock and horror): “Daddy, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Slightly annoyed and startled, he replies, “What do you mean? I am making you a sandwich?”
Me: “Daddy, NO. That’s disgusting. You can’t put cheese with peanut butter and jelly! I am NOT eating that.”
To my shock, he was not done with his master sandwich! To the peanut butter, jelly, and cheese, he added lettuce and deli meat! (I am sure I am leaving out at least one ingredient. Nonetheless, all I know is that the ingredients he assembled were sure to break some kind of record for the nastiest sandwich ever).
So, the debate began.
Me: “Daddy, that’s disgusting! Are you serious right now?”
Dad: “What do you mean? You guys eat this stuff all the time! Doesn’t Mommy put this in the sandwich all the time?” he yelled.
Me: “Yes, but not all at the same time, Daddy!”
Dad: “Well, whatever! It is all going to the same place anyway! You either eat it or not. I am not making another sandwich!”
In the hopes that my father would understand the difference between sandwich contents, I called my brother who is 3 years old than me. He was also shocked and tried to talk some sense into the sandwich slaughterer, but it didn’t work. Dad was convinced his sandwich was gourmet and we were certain it was certified gross!
In the end, we didn’t eat it. I munched on a few snacks until my mother came home to rescue us from the nastiest sandwich any human had ventured to assemble! I cannot stop laughing every time I think about this story because my father is truly hilarious for this one. And trust me, I remind him of it every time I remember it.
Lesson 1: Do not be so quick to copy someone’s actions or life choices if you don’t know all the details of how they arrived there (and the consequences they endured getting there).
Do you know my father’s reason for making this disgusting sandwich? He said he saw my mother use those ingredients all the time when she was making sandwiches for us! Are you kidding me? Well, Daddy, you needed to pay closer attention buddy because she clearly never put those ingredients together at the same time in one sandwich!
But isn’t his mistake much like the ones we often make in life? We see other people’s success or we watch what they have achieved. Then, we just try to duplicate it without first doing our research to see how they got there in the first place. Do we know the details of their journey or are we blindly imitating them in the hopes of creating a masterful sandwich? Exactly. Sorry Dad, epic fail. Do your research before you start trying to blindly copy Mommy, the master cook of the house.
Lesson 2: Don’t allow ANYONE to make you physically, emotionally, or mentally ill, even if they are your dearest friend or family.
There was no way on earth that I was going to eat that sandwich at that time. If I was on the Fear Factor show and it stood between me and $1,000,000, then gobble, gobble, gobble! However, to eat it at home after I dreamed of a yummy sandwich all morning, absolutely NOT. I figured out a plan B and waited until my mommy came home. That sandwich would have made me sick. I love my Dad very much. He is one of my favorite people on the planet, but there was no way I was going to make myself sick just because he’s my Dad and I love him.
Are you allowing someone you love (family, friends, acquaintances) to make you physically, emotionally, and mentally sick in the name of love, kindness, friendship, etc? We are no good to ourselves and those we love if we are not at our best. I am sorry, but being emotionally and mentally sick because we keep eating crap (figuratively) from other people is ridiculous, not to mention poisonous. It is important to recognize that sometimes people are not intentionally trying to hurt us, but ultimately they do. It is our job to know ourselves, know our limits, and with the help of God, know what’s best for us.
Life is not always this big bad wolf that wants to blow our little house down. It wants to laugh with us, dance with us, and show us that life is all about growth, love, learning, and laughter. We just need to keep our eyes open for sandwich slaughterers like my Dad who try to feed us the yuckiest food on the planet. I’m joking!
Keep your eyes open and remember you don’t have to eat everything the world gives you.