Friday, December 21, 2012

Good Form

The bottle said, "Feel Good About What's in This Bottle." I like to eat oranges. I like to eat carrots. So a bottle of orange + carrot juice ought to be good, right? It turned out from the first swallow I began calculating how many days at four ounces a day it would take for me to finish off this nasty bottle of nutrition. I forgot a cardinal rule about liking things that are good for you: it's all about form.

Remember Mary Poppins? We want things that are good for us to be like that spoonful of sugar making the medicine go down. It has to be palatable. But the saccharine coating we require is not limited to medicine or food. We want a Walkman to make our jogging endurable. We want a bit of flattery to make the verbal correction seem reasonable. Like Calvin, we don't want the barfing face sticker, even if it is more truthful than the smiley face. Make the hard stuff pleasant.

When my kids were small, like all parents, I wanted to get good food down them. Quickly I discovered that the form you present it in makes all the difference. Celery is no fun, but celery with peanut butter down the middle and a row of raisins (and call it "Indians in a Canoe") is real eating. A whole apple is boring, but slice it up and use pairs of slices to make apple smiles and the doctor will never be at your door. The trick is making the nutrition fun. Somehow peanut butter always has something to do with it, too...

None of us likes discipline by itself. We want the reward that comes with it to keep deciding to do whatever that discipline is. Virtue, being its own reward, is all well and fine, but there would be a lot more goodness in the world if it was paid off with Godiva chocolate. And the more distant the reward, the harder it is to stay motivated. My bottom line motivation is to get to heaven, but on a day-to-day basis, I'm asking for the grace to get through one day. I haven't changed the goal. The top rung of the ladder is still there, I am just focusing on the rung above the one on which my foot currently rests. Like Psalty, we climb our mountains one step at a time.

So, if you want me to do a better job, tell me what I've been doing right so far. If you want me to smile more, smile at me. A kind word and a wink goes down better than a scolding. And beets cut into heart shapes will get eaten faster than ones that are just sliced. The flavor hasn't changed. It's all about good form.


L. H. Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L. H. Lynch said...

*edited for typos*

Links! Integrated into the text! It's a real blog!

Although, to be honest, I can't believe one of them was from Psalty.

I've heard a few people talk about communication like it's an "open door", as in "just tell us anything that's bothering you, don't stand on ceremony, we value healthy communication." The problem is, there's no surer way to shop off communication at an early stage than by robbing someone of the social conventions they need to begin. It's not comforting for me to be told "come in whenever". I would prefer an invitation. Sometimes, it's just more comfortable to knock.

At the same time though, I hit a brick wall when I'm trying to communicate with someone by always waiting for the "opportune moment". There comes this stage where I realize I've given up honesty for fear of hurting someone's feelings. I end up annoyed and snappy, and then I hurt people's feelings anyway. Clearly there's a balance, I just don't know where to find it.

Lisa said...

I had no idea links were essential to a real blog, as if my ideas have to be connected to other ideas to be valid! (I'm joking here, not defensive.) Old dogs can learn new tricks, and I didn't ask anybody to show me how to do it.

Lisa said...

Honesty does not always have to hurt. And this is where we need to be wise and choose the right words in the right dosage at the right moment. I often find it is my own impatience that makes me snappy and annoyed. Sometimes it is just a lack of courage to step out on thin ice and say something that might not be received as a kindness. And sometimes we realize that no matter how we say it, the person hearing it is not going to be receptive. Then the responsibility shifts if we have been as kind and careful as we should be when speaking.