“Never underestimate the power of food.” ~ Anthony Bourdain
“Life handed him a lemon, As Life sometimes will do.His friends looked on in pity, Assuming he was through. They came upon him later, Reclining in the shade. In calm contentment drinking a glass of lemonade.”
This poem popularized the expression “Making lemonade out of lemons,” and was inspired by a phrase that appeared in the Auburn Seminary Record in 1916, describing the optimist as “the man who made lemonade of the lemon handed him.”
It’s tricky business being an optimist. On the one hand it’s favorable and pleasant to be around. On the other, we’ve gotta be careful we don’t discount the gravity of a situation others may be feeling, or avoiding dealing with the reality of it. You don’t want to make mountains out of molehills, but making molehills out of mountains isn’t good either.
There’s a Buddhist term for this defense mechanism called ‘spiritual bypassing,’ and while it’s a cheery kind of defense mechanism, it’s still avoidance and it disconnects us from reality. Yes, even spiritual and positivity practices can have a shadow side. We just have to be honest with ourselves about whether we are practicing self care and joy, or avoiding the truth. There’s a sweet spot in there.
It’s kinda like thinking about ice cream when people are stockpiling their freezers preparing for a pandemic. It’s not to discount others’ fears, it’s finding balancing between educating yourself and hearing their perspective, and choosing the response that feels both responsible and comfortable to you. If thinking about ice cream makes you feel good after you have considered and dealt with your own response, go nuts. And if you are handed a tough situation, or a dead end, and you find an honest and good way out, and no less, a sweet one; Go for it!
All this comes about from a silly Mercury in retrograde incident I had today involving a persistent dental issue. Ironically happening for the second time in a few weeks, and shortly after not one, but two, elders cautioned me to take care of my teeth because it’s a nightmare to deal with at ninety. Well, I kinda lived that bad dream today, until I realized… I already have a dentist appointment scheduled for Monday morning, there will be Novocain on hand, and I have no choice but to eat my new favorite obsession—Jeni’s ice cream— for dinner, which I had just renounced due to a correlation between my love for Salty Caramel and a significant weight gain.
Moral—it’s ok to spin a negative into a positive, so long as you are real and you deal. Got a tooth ache, eat your favorite ice cream. Don’t take your personal declarations so seriously that you can’t budge from them. And most of all, enjoy things you love, especially in times of crisis. If it involves tonsils or toothaches, or really any kind of aches, I HIGHLY recommend Jeni’s ice cream, which, btw can be bought mail order: https://jenis.com/
Here enjoy this video of my five year old foster Godson, as he moves through attachment, fear and anxiety, to ultimately letting go, and experiencing nirvana.