Mastering the Can Opener

It’s a simple thing.  The hand crank can opener.  A kitchen appliance that’s been around forever. It’s simple, it’s cheap and it’s easy to use. Right?  Wrong.  I have never been able to use one.  It gets stuck, falls off the can or just will not cut.  Stupid things!  But recently our electric one died and I opted to purchase a hand one for a couple of reasons.  One, it takes up less room and I’m on a mission to remove the clutter from my life (and more precisely, from my kitchen counter); two, it reduces our “carbon footprint”.  I’m a hippie remember.

Well, it still didn’t work.  Mind you, my husband and both my teenage kids have no issue using it, so thankfully the inability was not passed down to my children.  But I kept trying.  Not like I really had an option, after all.  Either use it, or skip adding the tomatoes and beans to the chili, making myself a tuna melt or some other treat packed away in the fortress of a can. It always ended the same way; a family member coming to my frustrated pleas of help when cans were mangled and I was ready to chuck the opener across the room. They would stroll in, open the can and stroll out giving me a look of mingled pity and annoyance.

The other day I finally figured it out. It wasn’t an epiphany at the time, but it certainly made me happy!  After opening several cans effortlessly, proving to myself that, yes, I indeed had mastered this feat, I called my family in to prove it!  After all, they stuck by me all those years when I couldn’t do it.  “Watch!!!” I was so proud of this new found talent! They smiled, patted me on the back and said encouraging things like, “Wow.” and “Finally!”

Sure, I suppose practice was at the root of why I can finally, at the age of 46, open a can with a hand opener.  But I think it’s a lot more than that (of course I do…it’s how I operate).  I finally understood the key to making it work.  I stopped trying to force it.  All these years I’ve been holding on for dear life and trying to force the cutter around the can as if it didn’t know how to perform without my guidance.  Once I let it guide me, it worked perfectly.  Hmmm.  Now, if that isn’t a metaphor,  I don’t know what is!

This is truly where I am in my life right how.  I’m having a zen moment with my can opener and letting it teach me another lesson in my relationships.  I’m tired of trying to force them to work.  It’s frustrating and unfulfilling.  While I know I need to participate and be part of the function to make it truly work, I can’t do it all myself.  The opener knows its role and does it well.  The can knows its role and also complies.  I was the only one that never understood that it’s a joint effort; only when you stop trying to control the situation, everything works as it should.

Yup, all that from successfully opening a can!

Listen to Your Narrator

Is this real life, or is it just fantasy….

As a writer and avid reader I am always looking for the metaphor in situations; what does it really mean? In novels it’s rare that the main character sees what’s really happening.  People say one thing and mean another.  Sometimes, if we’re lucky, the narrator will tell us what’s happening in the other person’s mind. Reality doesn’t give us the luxury.  We have to try and figure it out for ourselves.   This is where my overactive, creative mind leads me astray. I try so hard to seek the metaphor that I completely miss the point.  I miss the actual WORDS and morph them into something else.  I run scenario after scenario around in my mind until I pick the one that fits snugly into the little world I’ve created.

But even in my own novels, while there may be twists and turns, the truth comes out in the end.  The truth eventually sets you straight and everything becomes clear.  Even in the world I’d created the truth finally reared its ugly head. I wasn’t completely surprised; deep down I had known all along.  No matter how many meanings I swirled around in my mind and no matter how I crafted my own world around them, I knew, I knew in my gut that I was fooling myself. I knew what the true reality was.  I just refused to listen to the narrator. Life does give us a narrator; not into the minds of the characters surrounding us perhaps, but into our own mind. It warns us when we are being foolish.  It warns us when we need to pay attention. We just need the ability to listen. I ignored those pangs of warning, the grumblings deep within telling me that something wasn’t right. Instead, I chose to soldier blindly on.

According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary:


noun \ˌin-tü-ˈi-shən, -tyü-\

: a natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence : a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why

I think we all know what it means.  That little voice in your head…that little feeling in your gut that guides you or warns you that something isn’t right.  Hunch. Inkling.  I heard it. I just chose to ignore it.  But it only prolonged the pain.

Like learning to dance along to the music, I’ve learned the importance of listening to my narrator.  Listening to the warning signs bubbling in my existence. I need to get back in touch and feel the rhythmic hums warning me that all is not well. I was stupid, but I wasn’t blind. I chose to close my eyes.   But I won’t beat myself up. Like all good characters, I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’ve grown.  Every experience is a blessing or a lesson.  The only difference is how you perceive it.

Ah, The Time Has Come to Learn to Dance

“…there comes a time, Timelord, when every lonely little boy must learn how to dance!”

~ The Girl in the Fireplace, Doctor Who

This quote has stayed with me from the very first time I heard it uttered.  Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a Doctor Who fan.  I’ve seen them all multiple times; like Shakespeare and the Bible, each reading (or viewing in this case) often leads to a new emphasis on a word, a phrase, a scene.  What might have seemed simple at the time, now speaks volumes to a new, emerging part of my soul.  It’s just a show.  Sure.  But aren’t they all (shows, books, plays, etc) just reflections of human emotion?  Of course they are.

I’m not sure why this quote stayed with me. Perhaps it’s because David Tennant played that “lonely little boy” so well that I found myself thinking, “Yes!  He needs to dance”.  Because after all, isn’t dance such a wonderful way to free yourself from your inhibitions? Maybe it’s because I thought of Pride and Prejudice.  Where would have been without the dance?  Ms. Bennett would have never met Mr. Darcy.  Another lonely little boy.  But of course, I’m over thinking. Because over thinking is what I do.

But dancing is more than proper, formal movement; or completely random bursts of energy as you toss yourself around on the floor.  It’s a reaction to music deep within your soul.  It’s listening at its greatest.  Not to the words or the beat with your ears, but allowing your soul to react to what it hears.  I’m talking about when you truly dance, truly allow yourself to lose yourself to the music and let yourself go. I believe that’s what Reinette meant when she told the Doctor he needed to learn to dance.  She wanted him to listen to the rhythm of the music, the reaction deep within his soul.

Dancing goes back thousands of years for good reason.  Whether it’s ceremonial or meditative, music and dancing have allowed people to experience a connection–a personal connection– that no other medium can supply.  Think about it.  What happens when you hear your favorite song on the radio?  You smile, you turn it up and you can’t help but bebop along behind your steering wheel or wherever you may be.  Your attention is drawn to the song until the very last beat, making it hard to concentrate fully on anything else.  A part of you, I suggest your soul, won’t allow it.  Your soul is reacting and try as you might, it will not stop.   When you give in and dance, allowing your soul to express its happiness (or sadness) in the particular song, you are finally listening.  You are giving yourself over to the true self.  To who you are in the deepest, darkest, all too often hidden pieces of yourself.

Now, I’m not saying if you listen to Death Metal you have tendency towards violence or anything like that.  I’m saying something in the beat, something in the MUSIC is speaking to you.  Let it react!  I love a few of Marilyn Manson’s songs…Rob Zombie has some that I can’t help but crank up.  I have a lot of different songs that make me happy or sad or melancholy or reflective, depending on my mood. Listen to what your soul is saying when it reacts.   Music is a very, very powerful medium.

Recently, at the recommendation of someone who knows me very well and knew I needed a little peace, I bought the Loreena McKennitt’s  Book of Secrets CD. It has helped me in ways I forgot were possible.  Not only does it instantly calm me, it makes my heart and soul react.  My heart skips a beat when certain songs come on; my soul perks up and takes in every beat.  I don’t even know if I can explain the physical reaction, but the emotional one is of peace, ache and joy; a connection to something much, much larger than myself.  It’s spiritual for me.  I think that’s the only way I can describe it.  It allows my soul to connect to the oneness of the universe.  All through song.  Because it’s what my soul needs. It needs peace. And it needs to dance to that peace.

The past two years have been chaotic in my soul and I have found myself cut off from the sacredness I hold deep inside. I’ve forgotten how to do the things I truly love. Be the person I truly love to be.  I’ve forgotten how to dance.  But I’m ready to rekindle that connection with my soul; ready to be who I am supposed to be.

While not a little boy (or a Timelord for that matter), I am lonely.  I am very, very lonely. No one can ever fill that void if I can’t listen to the music and allow my soul react. But more importantly, to listen to what it’s telling me.  To allow it peace and joy and yes, even sadness.   It’s time I take the hand of my soul and learn to dance.