“Who can tell me who sings this song?”
We were in the car the other day, and my husband was taking care of one of the most sacred of all parental duties: ensuring our children receive a foundation in solid musical taste.
Michael piped up from the backseat. “Mayonnaise?”
I looked at my husband quizzically, at first figuring Michael was just being his random, quirky, nonsensical preteen self. Then it clicked, and a laugh escaped my lips. He had created a very clever alternate name for the band in question.
“Please don’t ever lose that, buddy,” I pleaded.
The kid has a gift for seeing things in a different light, and it’s one of the things I love about him. It’s also a highly valuable trait, one which most of us seem to lose bit by bit as we get older. Probably because we get so ingrained in our patterns, our status quos, and our own personal bubbles.
But then your kid refers to a classic band as Mayonnaise, and it reminds you how important it is to step outside your box every once in a while to see life from a different vantage point. (You’re dying to know the band, aren’t you? Sorry, I’m going to make you work for it.)
When I turned 40, several people told me that one of the advantages of the milestone was that it seems to mark when a person finally stops worrying so much about what others think. It sounded freeing to me. But I am coming to realize maybe it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Because when you stop caring about what others think, your own thoughts become stagnant. Failure to challenge your own beliefs and ideas is a sign to everyone that you know everything you need to know. Personally, I think 40 is pretty young to assume I have nothing left to learn. So is 90, for that matter. It is a tragedy that we often miss out on the rewards of evolving, all because we are so sure we’ve already got it figured out…or we don’t care if we’ve figured it out…or we just give up on figuring it out because it’s easier that way. (However, 40 is a good age to appreciate why Mayonnaise could be the first entry in the thesaurus next to our mystery band’s name. But I’m still not going to tell you what it is yet. If you’re 40, you should have learned more patience by now.)
There is so much value in coming at something differently. Sometimes it’s a situation you can’t change, but everything about it could feel changed based on how you decide to approach it. Sometimes it’s realizing that what you’ve always seen as comfortable is actually you settling for a reality less than what you deserve. Sometimes it’s recognizing that your reality isn’t applicable to everyone else’s; or that your beliefs may be sound, but they might need to play out in other ways for people with varying circumstances.
And sometimes it’s just about finding another way to say something. Like renaming the band Pearl Jam as Mayonnaise…
…think about it…
…pearls are white…jam is a spreadable condiment…
I told you. That kid has a gift.
(Also, now I know what I’d name my Pearl Jam cover band. If I had a drop of musical talent, that is.)