Saturday, November 7, 2009

What I Learned from the Potato

Three-plus years into our Son-Rise Program, I'm not entirely practiced at choosing happiness. Sometimes (ok, a few times a day), I choose an emotional response or a behavior that's not happiness. This is just about the opposite of the Intelligrid that I began studying in Calm Amid Chaos, but I had a chance to practice choosing my responses yesterday.

I went to the cafe downstairs to buy my lunch. My mouth started to water when I considered a roasted sweet potato with butter from the baked potato bar. I added the sweet potato to my plate and then the butter. I then considered the assortment of additional toppings: cheese, bacon, sour cream, onions. It was everything you could want on top of a russet, but on top of a sweet potato? Ick. Then the little voice in my head, piped up, "You have to add something. It's included in the potato bar price. The people behind you in line will think you're weird if you only take butter."

"But," I argued with myself, "I only want butter."

"You're getting ripped off if you only take butter because you paid for all the other toppings," the belief-voice replied.

"Onions on a sweet potato? That's gross." I tried the logical route, but the belief remained firm: people are judging you for your lunch choice; people will think it's weird. "Maybe bacon," I faltered.

"Hurry up and choose," the voice urged. "You're holding up the line."

"I was happy with my butter choice until you spoke up. I could be through the cashier line by now but instead I'm standing here staring at bacon bits."

"Hurry!" and then, to seal the deal on my choice to be miserable, "You're always so indecisive."

I took a step back from the potato bar. I remembered that I was in charge of my own lunch. Right there on the spot, I gave myself a mini-Dialogue while pretending to consider a tureen of soup, ending with the thought that although someone might actually be judging me for my lunch, I could still go for what I want.

Just a few years ago, if you asked me if I could stand grounded in my own convictions, tall in the face of adversity, I would have said yes. But it would have been because that was the acceptable answer and who I hoped to be. If you asked me today if I am authentic, if I know my beliefs and how they color my actions and feelings, I would be honest and say, "Sometimes." I might even add, "More and more every day." One day soon, I hope the answer will be, "Yes." That's what I'm learning from Son-Rise, and rediscovered in a potato.

And, as it turned out, my lunch was delicious.

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