So I have this coupon. Feels like I have always had it; I keep finding it in my pocket, or as a bookmark, or in a manila folder with other papers, or wherever else. I don’t remember how long I’ve had it, or what it is for, or was for, or any of that. I don’t know who gave it to me, or if I paid money to get it. It wasn’t for a donkey basketball game because I have that coupon in my wallet. It could have been a raffle, or a sporting event, or just something someone handed to me. But the message is problematic, it says: KEEP THIS COUPON. So I have, but I’m not sure If I still should.
I think we are keeping too many coupons. The coupon in question is a larger symbol for culture, tradition, church, school, society, the status quo. A less symbolic message is related to hoarding, simplifying life, and getting rid of things, etc. Let’s look at the deeper one though.
Another way to look at is this. (I’m repeating a story I heard elsewhere….See List #3) A woman finally asked her grandmother why she served her famous baked ham in two dishes. She had also been doing the same thing for many years and wondered why it was better to cut it in half. Her grandmother told her that she didn’t have a pan big enough for the whole thing, so she cut it in two. How many things in our lives are like this?
How often do I stop to say WHY? This is that annoying habit in toddlers that we abandon as adults. We need to readopt it for many of the things we do unconsciously every day. Is our larger cultural assumption that we will always KEEP THE COUPON? I feel like it is. We need to question those assumptions, we need to ask why we are thinking them.
Travel and learning about other cultures and time periods is helpful. We don’t need a bed or a table or a television in our house in order to survive. We don’t even need a house. What assumptions are we holding on to, are you holding on to, am I holding on to?
There are reasons we do many things. But, often the original reason is no longer valid and what we are left with is a ritual, a custom, a tradition that may need to be updated. There are some coupons that it is time to get rid of. And, true enough, when we try something different we may relearn why we did it that way in the first place.
I was reminded of these thoughts today at work. Something nonsensical happened. A process continued that made sense to some, but was ridiculous to others. The justification ended up being, “Because we’ve always done it that way.” This is stupid. I wonder if there is a process, beyond just stopping and asking why, where we can ditch many of our irrelevant patterns and habits?
I think it’s always time to unkeep some coupons.
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