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Is Broken Candy Less Sweet?

1024 768 Austin Barrow

Is Broken Candy Less Sweet?

Last night I sat on a bench with my daughter waiting on some take out. She desperately wanted to use my phone to occupy her mind while we waited, but I insisted that we talk instead, and boy did she take me to school.

She came along for the ride because I have the doors off of my Jeep. I know it’s not my winning personality and I’m okay with that. She likes loud music and wind in her hair, and if she can have both at the same time, she smiles. So, how could I possibly deny her the opportunity?

I’m not sure, but I would guess that her favorite thing about going to this particular restaurant is the fortune cookies. I always loved these as a kid, but as an adult, I’m a little less excited. Frankly, I think they usually taste similar to a lightly sugared piece of cardboard. I even have this practice where I don’t select the fortune cookie, just in case I don’t agree with the destiny typed out inside. I wait until everyone else has chosen their cookie, and then I take the last one. This way, I can still eat it because we all know that the prescribed premonition will come true if you eat the cookie.

She grabs a handful, one for each of the four of us. It’s going to be a bit of a wait, but you don’t want to forget dessert. As we are sitting and chatting, she accidentally drops one of them on the floor, and it breaks … tragedy.

All of a sudden, this cookie is no longer a viable dessert. It’s packaged, so it didn’t get dirty. The twenty-four inches between her hand and the floor did not alter the chemical make up of the treat. It tastes the exact same. The only alteration is a small fissure exposing the little piece of paper that lays out her absolute future.

How often does this happen to us? You open up that KitKat bar and accidentally break one of the bars along the length instead of the edge. Staring at that enormous round lollipop, nearly tasting it before you open the package, but it’s spoiled when it bangs against the counter and chips before you had a chance to eat it. And the absolute worst (at least for me) is opening a package of Pepperidge Farm Cookies, Geneva of course, and finding out they have been crushed by the milk on the ride home. Just thinking about it makes me die a little inside.

Why? That was my question for the little lady whose face had gone long looking at the fortune cookie sitting on the floor. “Don’t you think it will taste the same?” I asked. She replied, “Of course, but the experience will be different.” Yes, it will.

How many times have we set up an idea in our mind that things will work out a specific way, and we have inserted disappointment before we have even had the chance to have the experience we were planning? The experience will taste just as good, just a little different. This only becomes more important, the sweeter the experience. Man, I do this to myself all the freakin’ time.

Looking at my cute little life coach with dumbfounded realization, she giggles, picks up the cookie, and goes back to telling me about the kids on the playground. The cookie was eaten later that evening. The fortune was told and forgotten, and the experience was still as sweet.

So the next time I reach for a sweet treat in life, I’m going to enjoy it no matter what.

I’m Not Scared of the Dark … I Promise

3266 1837 Austin Barrow

I'm Not Scared of the Dark ... I Promise

It seems like one of the significant accomplishments between childhood and adulthood is the mastery of fear. I can remember spending the night at my grandparents’ house, which seemed cavernous, old, and full of ghosts, and being more afraid of the dark in those moments than in any other. I used to memorize where all of the light switches were on the wall. That way, when I needed to go into a room, I could stick my arm into the inky blackness and trace my fingers along the wall until I found the switch.

I’m no longer afraid of the dark, but I don’t like to ride crazy amusement park rides. I don’t know that I could fully admit that I’m scared, but my equilibrium and my stomach would undoubtedly admit to a full-fledged fear. However, when I look at all of these kids being slung in three different directions at once, faces full of electricity, I’m jealous.

Something is thrilling about being a child and jumping on to a large piece of machinery that slings you about with abandon. You lift your hands into the air and let it take you where it may. The only goal is not to throw up, which should be a goal in just about every situation. This is, of course, in spite of filling your gut with cotton candy, caramel apples, foot-long corn dogs, and deep-fried Oreos. Man, don’t you just love carnival food.

So this morning, waking up with a carb and sugar-induced hangover, I got online and saw dozens of photos of people flying about through the air. Some of them covered in smiles and laughter and others with their eyes squeezed shut as tight as they can trying to bear the fear to the end. I know I witnessed this several times last night. I was amazed at how that fear would melt from faces and be replaced with joy and amazement, probably because despite their thoughts seconds before, they survived.

There’s a nugget of wisdom somewhere in that moment, that playfulness and excitement can make fear disappear entirely. It reminds me of the moments after my wife gave birth to our firstborn. She had experienced a ridiculous number of hours of labor, and the moment she saw our son … forgotten.

So mastery is probably the wrong word, but perhaps understanding is a better one. It’s time to look for the fun and enjoy the electricity of excitement that we have when we just let loose and play like we did when we were kids. I don’t know who said it, but man it rings true, “Sing like no one is listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Change

1955 1026 Austin Barrow

Change

If there is one thing that I think most people would unite behind, it’s that change is a hard thing to accomplish. It’s one of those words that as soon as its spoken, we all sit back in our chairs, cross our arms and put that, “tell me more,” look on our faces. We are instantly skeptical.

Positive change can’t happen without the right kind of self-talk …

Change always seems to come with pain or risk. Pain when you get a phone call late into the evening to learn about the loss of a loved one, or risk when you take a leap of faith based on nothing more than your belief in your abilities. The risk when you walk into a meeting with a presentation on how to take on a new challenge or pain when you finally make it to the sauna after an hour of sweat on the gym floor.

I believe that change comes in waves. It’s like a force that hits you every couple of years and doesn’t stop until it has you lieing on the ground begging for mercy as it stands over you huffing and puffing with its bloody knuckles. But what we can’t forget is that it is we that get to decide when to get up and what direction we will go next.

Self-talk has become a highlight for me of late. That mean spirited shit that lives directly over the top of left ear sometimes leans over and begins to whisper his opinions. I decided about six months ago to stop listening because he was an agent of resistance and malice. His goals were not my goals, and if you house one of these demons somewhere on your person, I suggest an expulsion. This doesn’t mean that he will be gone forever, as I still hear his rumblings attempting to disrupt my new course, but if you acknowledge his voice and then tell him to shut the hell up, well you are a step ahead of the rest.

Positive change can’t happen without the right kind of self-talk, whether the change was chosen or thrust upon you, filled with pain or with risk. So, if you are looking to take a leap or recovering from an unforeseen curveball, the best advice you can receive is to start with you. It’s a little silly, but perhaps one of the best and most useful sketches ever performed on the set of Saturday Night Live was the Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley’s closing lines, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggonnit people like you.”