Choosing Your Ingredients

A funny question came to mind recently.

But first, a little background information.

In 1973, in an effort to standardize the food industry, the United States began requiring that packaged foods provide nutritional labels spelling out the number of calories, grams of protein, carbohydrate and fat and the percent of the US Recommended Daily Allowance of specific ingredients.

Then in 1990, the USDA mandated that all food companies were required to make consistent claims and include a detailed, standardized nutrition facts panel on all products intended to be sold.

This resulted in the nutritional labels you now find on almost every food item sold and additional changes are planned for the future.

My question is, what do you think it would be like if every human had a label attached to them listing their ingredients, like the food products we eat?

I’m not talking about the percentages of the most common chemicals found in humans; like oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, calcium, and phosphorus.

What I mean is, what if we came with a label identifying the contents of our hearts and minds? A label that provided insight into our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs.

In one way it might make it easier to understand each other.

And perhaps there would be warnings on our labels, letting others know which topics were most likely to trigger negative reactions before conversations began.

The idea also made me wonder, if we could see our own label clearly, would we still want each ingredient to be inside us? Or perhaps we’d recognize that one or more of them do not make us happy, fulfilled, or joyful. That some of our contents create misery and suffering.

If we knew in advance that some of our ingredients were harmful to us, we might make better decisions.

Well, what if we started over? Is that possible?

If you answered ‘yes’, what would you consciously choose to place inside yourself, if you could begin again?

I found the question intriguing and needed to sit back for a moment before answering.

I tried to clear my mind, which is quite a task some days. I think there are lots of ingredients that would be good to start with, but I ended up choosing ‘love’. Love for me and love for those around me. Is there any way that could ever go wrong?

But an important part of me asked what that actually means. How does love work? After all, there are so many difficult and challenging situations we all face. Is love really the answer to them all?

I sat back again, awaiting my own answer.

I came to an immediate conclusion…yes, love is the answer to everything. It is the main ingredient. With it firmly in my heart I see everything else fitting together. Love allows me freedom. It makes it possible to see through fear, sadness, anger, and all of the other warnings I might encounter.

And if I want to add other ingredients, love works with them all in unison, courage, compassion, bravery, generosity, empathy, faith, trust and so many more.

If you decide to start over, I hope you choose ingredients that serve you well.

Conversations with Past and Future Selves

Would you like an opportunity to speak with yourself, either from the past or the future? To have things revealed to you, to make your life easier or to offer you a chance to avoid pitfalls.

That’s the question that came to me recently.

The event that created this was the purchase of a new bed for our upstairs bedroom. In order to make space I needed to relocate all the storage bins I’d shoved under the old bed. I’d really packed them in and basically only had a vague idea what they contained.

I made myself a promise to sort through every bin and make decisions regarding what was worth keeping and what needed to be thrown away.

My discoveries were very enlightening. There were all sorts of interesting things covering several different time periods in my life, some from college, some from my early working years and a few things that were more recent.

I found a lot of journals I’d written and decided to leaf through a few. I was struck by the life events that concerned me at the time I wrote them, some of which remain with me today, while others have long since been resolved.

A question popped up.

I wondered how my life would have changed if the ‘current me’ could go back and have a conversation with the ‘past me’. What could I have learned? And would I have listened and changed course?

I’m not sure.

Some part of me believes I wouldn’t have paid attention, and gone ahead and made the same decisions, despite the sound advice I received.

I don’t know about that either.

What would you have done; listened or ignored your ‘future self’? It’s an interesting question to kick around. Certainly, I’d have liked to avoid many of the problems in my life and taken an easier route.

But would I really?

The reason I ask is, would I still be the same person that I am today if I’d made different choices? And if I had, what would the consequences have been? Suppose the advice given me by my ‘future self’ altered the decisions I made that led me to a new friend, or a better job, or a wise investment?

How can anyone know the right path to take so that they experience the outcomes they most desire?

Something twisted during my musing about this.

I wondered, what would my life be like if the ‘current me’ could talk with the ‘future me’?

What if that were possible? What questions would I ask?

A few came to me quickly. How long will I live? Will I lose those closest to me? What will my day-to-day life be like? Will the New York Giants ever win another Super Bowl?

I sat with all of these questions and more for a while before deciding that I don’t really want to know.

I think it would spoil the surprise. And I think it would change every moment of my ‘current life’ because I’d be thinking about the ‘future me’.

I also think my life would lose its spontaneity, its spark, and its sparkle.

So, despite how much I might learn, I would choose just to wave to my ‘past’ and ‘future’ selves from a distance and go on about living my ‘current’ life.

We can still be friends, but for now, I choose to live in my present moment.