When I was a kid I was perplexed by the idea of a spoon being served with a plate full of spaghetti. As if chopsticks wasn’t enough of a challenge, now I was being given a new tool that just seemed misplaced. Life has felt like that many times. You are given new skills, new circumstances, new relationships… and I just keep asking myself, “what am I supposed to do with this?”
My grandpa was the one who taught me how use a spoon with spaghetti. It was one of those moments you dipped your toes into adulthood to see what it was like. Much like when we decide to take responsibility for someone other than ourselves.
Prior to the spoon experience, I would spend minutes at a time twirling my fork in the yards of spaghetti strands. The slippery noodles never quite fully tucked in to my spooled bundle of Italian delight. I would try over and over again, twirling that fork like a ballet dancer, until finally I gave in. My stomach was impatient, and I would sacrifice perfection for the overly large serving size half captivated in my mouth with a few drooling stranding decorating my chin.
A happy camper I was. But, as part of the maturing phase us youngins must go through, I learned how to avoid such animal performances of grazing. I was given the spoon. I learned to twirl my fork into the dish of the spoon, and suddenly my noodles were tucked neatly in one packaged portion. I was no longer the barefoot five year old girl spinning uncontrollably around the room to dad’s R.E.M. cds getting carpet burns on my toes. I had learned refinement. I was now the 16 year old ballet dancer with her toes pointed and spinning in one square foot of floor space.
But even, in that stage of growth, I still wore my hair down. I liked to feel it spinning round me, I liked my messy locks in my face. It ticked me and I felt more alive. So, even though I may have learned to use a spoon, I still chose to use the fork. I know when its appropriate to use the spoon, and on occasion I may use it to impress; but on those nights when I begin to feel all too grownup, I’ll let loose and find those old R.E.M. cds make a big pot of spaghetti. I’ll take my fork and eat it straight from the pot.
The older I get the more I find myself in the situations life has been preparing me for. I find myself following instincts and taking care of others, taking leadership, taking silent moments, selflessly offering myself to the situation at hand, not because I told myself to, but because this was the time to use the spoon.
I find myself at an interesting fork in the road lately. Its a change in geographical locations, a change in community, in the known and the unknown. It’s a time when I wish I did have the spoon because my thoughts feel like those noodles and they are being swirled about. I am trying to make a neat order of them, because eventually I will have to eat them whole and make a decision, but its a little difficult without the spoon. Perhaps, its there in front of me, but I am choosing not to use it because then I would actually be feeding this hunger that has been there for so many years. Will I finally get to enjoy the meal I’ve been preparing for so long? I suppose the choice mine, and mine alone.