It happens. You flip the switch and there’s a sudden bright flash of light, and then darkness. It’s your cue to change the light bulb.
My most recent “light bulb moment” came at a routine time of day. I was making dinner and was once again unable to figure out where my husband had put my favorite bamboo spoon when he had emptied the dishwasher. I threw open and slammed shut every drawer in search of that spoon. I even checked the dishwasher. Twice.
And as I did this, I mumbled under my breath for the umpteenth thousandth time, “Just once, I’d love to be able to reach into the right drawer and pull out my spoon.” And as I mumbled this umpteenth thousandth time, I was accosted by that bright flash of light.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I heard my own voice saying, “Now that you’ve mumbled it, don’t say it out loud. He doesn’t need to hear it again, because he’s not going to put the spoon where you think it needs to be.”
It’s true. My husband empties the dishwasher, not so much because it needs emptying, but because he needs to woolgather. While he’s performing this “menial” task (which, by the way, I don’t ask or force him to do), he’s thinking about the next conversation he’s going to have with his client, or the response he’s going to prepare to an email. He’s most certainly not thinking about how important it is to me that he put the spoon in its “proper place,” so that while I’m “winging” it with my latest culinary gem (I rarely look at a recipe), I can simply reach in a drawer, grab a spoon and stir away. It’s not on his radar despite the fact that I’ve told him how important it is to me for the umpteenth thousandth time.
All too often I’ve come up with these epiphanies on my own or I’ve read them (especially on Facebook) and thought to myself, “What a great idea,” but I rarely act on them. I file them somewhere in my brain and that’s where they stay. I hardly ever embrace the fact that I should change. Call it being a creature of habit, or having trepidation about trying something new, or – dare I admit – that I’ve been doing something wrong. It’s rare that I adopt a doctrine that has blinded me.
There I was fumbling around “in the dark” after that bright flash had blinded me, getting more and more frustrated (yes, we have a lot of drawers in the kitchen where he could have put the spoon, and don’t forget the dishwasher), all the while the sautéed onions were over caramelizing. And I was thinking to myself what a great idea it was for me to keep my frustration to myself. So I filed it away somewhere in my brain. But before I found the truant spoon, I was again accosted by a different bright flash: change the bulb already! Seriously – adopt the notion that you really aren’t going to complain to him. Make the change in your life. For once, don’t utter a word to him about it.
Oh man! It was hard enough to admit that I’ve been wrong all these years for admonishing that dear man for not emptying the dishwasher to my standards (can you believe my audacity?), but to actually embrace that fact and appropriately act on it? Sheesh! I wasn’t sure I could do it.
I found the spoon in the knife drawer and immediately started stirring the onions. And the second he walked into the room, I started sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Big time.
And then it really happened: Instead of trying to find the spoon for me like he always does when being accosted by me for the umpteenth thousandth time, he asked why I didn’t look for the spoon before I put the onions in the skillet.
I think I went blind at that moment.
So I changed some light bulbs that night. This time I opted for brighter, longer-lasting LEDs. And now whenever I’m cooking, I find the all the utensils I need before I heat up the skillet. For the umpteenth thousandth time I mutter to myself and only to myself whenever I can’t find them on the first try.
Yet, being human and having been raised at my mother’s knee: a place for everything and everything in its place, not to mention that I sound just like her (or is it Charlie Brown’s teacher?) when I’m frustrated at someone, I falter some times. But mostly now, Brightness Is Mine.