Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Learning things the hard way prove to be real life lessons

This past week I learned, the hard way, that one should not roast hot chili peppers on the same day one goes to the dentist. This is, of course, because of that last minute rush to the bathroom, five minutes before your appointment, where you scrub the garlic bagel out of your breath and hope to trick the dentist into thinking that you floss more frequently than a full moon.
Because when you are rushing to roast hot peppers and then floss your teeth, you tend to be a bit lazy with the whole rubber glove/hand scrubbing thing, and you inevitably end up running around the bathroom, fanning your face, spitting, and yelling “my lips are on fire! My tongue is on fire!”
Eventually the burning subsides and you go to the dentist and while laying there in the chair, mouth pried open with multiple instruments that suck and scrape and grind hanging out, you sit your nine-month old baby on your lap in the hopes to keep her occupied while your mouth is sucked and scraped and ground. And to keep her quiet, you, in your infinite wisdom, grab a container of Cheerios that you’ve got stashed in your purse and slip one in her open mouth.
Her tiny tongue reaches out for the snack. Her tiny lips wrap around your finger to take in the entire oatey deliciousness. And your hot-pepper-laden finger lets go of the O…and some of the hot chili oil…into her most delicate mouth.
Then, with baby screaming, spitting, drooling, crying, etc. (I’m pretty sure there was baby goo coming out from every hole on her cute little head) the dentist happily informs me that I am cavity free! Hooray! Just what I was really worrying about at that point.
Shaking my head on the way home at my poor choice of parenting, I am taken back to when my daughter at a young age learned about creek mud. The hard way. We’ve got the stained shoes to prove it. Avid creek walkers will appreciate the hidden danger of creek mud, the semi-solid black organic muck that seems to come alive as it sucks in your foot and sometimes your entire leg. And even worse, sometimes it goes as far as to eat your shoe. It takes a trained eye to spot the quicksand of the woodlands, and guaranteed, if you step in it one time it will be your last. Your lesson will be learned.
“I learned about creek mud the hard way,” my daughter will tell people, all the much older and wiser. She’s an expert now.
We learn a lot of things the hard way, it seems. Just when we gain enough confidence to try something new and exciting, whether it be roasting chili peppers or creek walking, sometimes life just up and reminds us not to get to comfortable in our own shoes. (heh heh heh…)
But those very lessons that we learn the hard way are the ones that tend to stick with us the longest. Think back to something you did a little bit too carelessly and it backfired on you. Maybe you went too fast and rushed through things. Or maybe you didn’t look closely enough or let your mind wander. In any case, chances are you haven’t done it again.
Learning things the hard way might even be one of life’s reminders to take things slowly and pay attention to the little things. To stop and smell the roses, to look before you leap. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather look before I leaped in creek mud and not have chili oil up my nose -- I know I’ll never do that again.

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