From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I grew up in a large family. Recently one of my siblings reminded me about the elephant spoon. I have no idea where it came from, but of the dozens and dozens of spoons needed in a household our size there was one that had an elephant on the handle.
In every other regard the elephant spoon was identical to all the other spoons, but as you can imagine its uniqueness made it the coveted spoon. At mealtimes it would be moved, stolen, moved again; occasional fist fights would break out. Sometimes this special spoon would go missing as the result of one sibling or the other hiding it.
There was always a triumph in being the one with the spoon when all was settled for the meal or our parents had told us to knock it off. Without any knowledge of the elephant spoon chronicles, my kids have done something similar at our table for their entire childhood with something we affectionately call “the bamboo knife” (because the handle looks like bamboo).
So, while perhaps limited to my genetic pool, I think there is universal tendency to want what is different or to as a group decide what is the most valuable and then to all want that valuable thing.
I guess a key to being content and satisfied day-to-day is to appreciate what you have; after all the bamboo knife does not cut differently, the elephant spoon was a little bent out of shape from all the fights over it, and my neighbour’s new BBQ, while shinier, does not sear a steak much differently from my old one.
Camilla Kimball says: “You do not find a happy life, you make it.” I think there is a natural draw to think that having a new car, BBQ, dress or spoon will make us more content and happy, but the trap here is that once the novelty wears off we are looking around for the next new shiny thing that will bring a few moments of joy.
How much more limitless is the joy when it is in what we already have or the journey we are on right here and now?
All of these battles for the elephant spoon did not actually affect the chocolate milk or pudding or soup that was being eaten; all of the spoons worked equally well, and the food tasted just as good. All this to say that when I am staring down a plate of my favourite food, I am usually content with whatever silverware I have.
Like what you have, celebrate what others have and urge them to like it, and take more time to enjoy the food, the people and the memories over coveting a prized possession.
To my siblings I would like to say – I have not seen that spoon in over a decade – which one of you stole it after you moved out?