Friday, October 01, 2010

The Reuben Philosophy

I enjoy most foods, although I draw limits at things like escargot, eel, oysters, squid, and octopus. Then there are things that I could eat if I had to, but I just don't like. For instance, I detest rye bread, swiss cheese, and corned beef, and sauerkraut isn't my favorite either. A few years ago, however, I tasted a Reuben sandwich for the first time, and I immediately fell in love with it. Now tell me, how can I hate these four main Reuben ingredients individually, yet when you put them all together, my taste buds rejoice?! It just doesn't make sense, but I swear, it's true. Who knows why? Is it the addition of the thousand island dressing? Is it the grilled bread? Is it the chemical reaction of the various components? Who knows?

As I ate my half a Reuben sandwich last week in our hospital cafeteria, I again questioned how it could be possible that I can't stand the ingredients on their own, but could find so much pleasure in their combination. In reflecting, I started wondering if my Reuben paradox could be applied to life.

Would it be possible to take days where so much goes wrong and end up with a day that is saved in some way? Is it possible to endure the miserable things of life and come out with something to make you smile? To take experiences that, individually make you shudder and nevertheless combine them into days, weeks, months, and years that bring contentment?

My daughter believes that everything happens for a reason. I don't personally believe that, as my life experience runs more in the line of "crap happens for no reason," but I can compromise with her in this way: Regardless of why the crap happens, something good can always come out of it - whether it's a lesson learned, a new direction or calling in life, a new empathy for others who are suffering, a determination to improve, or even an opportunity for humility to take effect. It starts with the attitude that, although I might wish to change the circumstance, I will use it to my benefit in some way, and by gum, I'm not going to be beaten down and I refuse to surrender my power in the situation. I'm not willing just to tolerate the crap; it's actually going to make my life better!

Dealing with crap is one of the very definitions of life as a human. One thing is bad enough, but two, three, four things you hate descend upon you? Don't automatically give up. Start with a good attitude, embrace what you can't change, add some more ideas, try something new, and what you end up with might surprise you!

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