This morning when I opened up the pickle jar where my sugar lives I was greeted with a bunch of little tiny ants (or possibly spiders). I have already sold my airtight jars, which is why sugar is living in a pickle jar and apparently pickle jars are not airtight.
I did not panic. I did not drop the pickle jar where my sugar lives even as the tiny spider/ants moved on to my hand. What I did was to find a spoonful of insect-free sugar and drop it into my coffee mug. Then I took the pickle jar where my sugar lives out to my “compost pile” (which is really just everything on the other side of my back fence) and shook out the top half of the sugar. I used my hand to wipe off any remaining insects from the jar lid, poked around with the sugar spoon, and when I didn’t see any spider/ants, I put the top back on and put the pickle jar where my sugar lives into the fridge, where it will now stay.
This little run-of-the-mill Thursday morning happening started me thinking of all of the things I’ve learned and skills I’ve acquired and character traits I’ve developed in my 8 years living in the Dominican Republic. Of course there’s no way of knowing which of these things, skills, and traits I would have acquired had I been living in any other place, but I can with near confidence say that if I had spent the last 8 years living in the United States that I would not have so calmly evicted ant/spiders from my sugar/pickle jar and then kept using that pickle jar as sugar storage.
Over the past few days I have been watching Ultimate Beastmaster on Netflix. It’s basically American Ninja Warrior but with competitors from 9 different countries. I like watching it because I like cheering people on. It’s also very entertaining and there are lots of cute boys using big muscles to throw their bodies around.
The obstacles that these athletes go through require speed, power, certainty, and strength, but also a certain measure of thoughtfulness. You can’t just throw your body wildly into the Pivot Point without direction or consideration. You’ll fall into the Blood of the Beast!
One of the competitors shared before his run in the finals that he has a tattoo on his hand that says “SLOW DOWN.” He shared that he has a tendency to always be moving, to throw his mind and body wildly into things, and that he has found things go much better when he slows down just a bit, so that he can then move forward with direction and consideration.
Last summer I got the words “stay soft” tattooed on the top of my right wrist. It’s a pretty kick ass tattoo, and I get a lot of compliments on it. But it also serves as a very real reminder to myself to slow down, stay soft, take a moment, focus, and get some perspective. I believe that, for me, this practice of slowing down and gaining perspective before moving forward with action was born from necessity and inconvenience. Necessity and inconvenience just so happen to be ways of life for a not-rich American living in a mountain town in the Dominican Republic.
My life in the United States was, and I’m sure will be, marked by convenience. I am not slow to admit that I am looking forward to having some more convenience in my life. But I am also committed to continuously and habitually slowing down, staying soft, and moving forward with direction and consideration in the big things and in the small, pickle jar, sugar things. Even when my needs are being met and everything is convienient, I still want to slow down and stay soft.