Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The True Purpose of Life
My fridge died over the weekend. (Why do these things happen on a Sunday, when businesses are closed???) You don’t need to answer, that was a rhetorical question. And I think I know the reason…something to do with a Law named after some guy who was christened Murphy.
It had started making little clicking noises. Not regularly, but often enough that it was concerning. My brother, bless his heart, tried to diagnose the problem from 900 miles away and told me it was most likely a bit of dust or scrap of paper caught in the fan. He told me to either vacuum the coils myself or call on Monday to have a repair guy come out and service it.
Unfortunately, the patient didn’t last until Monday.
I opened the freezer, sending a spray of bright pink liquid all over the floor. (Popsicles.) Nothing else was “messy” in that way, but everything was thawed and somewhat gooshy. I saved a bottle of freezer jam – which would keep in the refrigerator (now on its own slow decline to terminal warmth). But everything else would have to be tossed…because my chest freezer in the garage was more than full. (And, of course, the floor would have to be mopped.)
I admit I had a moment when the tears came…it seems like this summer it’s just been one crisis after another…and occasionally you reach (what you think is) a breaking point.
But Monday came and I went down with my friend Kay and bought a new refrigerator. While it was an expense I certainly wasn’t planning on, and while it ratcheted my credit card balance up to a lovely new high, the problem was solvable…and survivable. On my way back home, after everything had been taken care of, I asked God how He thought I’d done on this particular challenge.
And then it came to me in a flash – The True Purpose of Life. (I guess on one level I knew this, but somehow the situation made it very real and immediate.)
I’ve mentioned that I love The Next Food Network Star…I’m hooked, can’t help it. (And not just because it’s about food.) Each week the contestants are given at least one challenge, most of the time two. And of course, these are tough challenges (because otherwise what would be the point?).
Stand in the middle of Times Square at noon with a teakettle and a hankie and film a 30 second commercial about puff pastry.
Do a nouvelle cuisine twist on Beanie Weenies in under 6 ½ minutes and serve it to Wolfgang Puck in a gorilla costume. (You can take your pick – the contestant, wearing a gorilla costume, serves Mr. Puck, or Wolfgang, wearing a gorilla suit, gets served upscale franks and beans – either way it would be interesting!)
Well, I’ve decided Life is just one endless Next Food Network Star episode. Only with different kinds of challenges. The challenges change as we get older…from “Throwing Up in Front of the Entire School Right Before Your Band Concert,” to “The Family Van, Filled with Eight Six-Graders Breaks Down at the Entrance to the Oakland Bay Bridge at Rush Hour” to “You Accidentally Swallow Your Contact While Camping and Can't Go Buy a New One.”
Some challenges are not the kind that can be given a humorous (after the fact) spin that you can use as a self-deprecating anecdote down the road. Losing a loved one or a best friend to Death. Being forced to place a parent in a nursing home. Going through a bitter divorce. Discovering a lump or an odd mole or something equally frightening. Watching a child spiral out of control into drugs. Losing a house to foreclosure. (Since I’m a veteran of the first two, I can vouch that there’s really no way to try to temper the difficulty of these kinds of trials. No way to make them sound less harrowing than they really are.)
The whole point of a challenge is to test someone. On reality programs the contestants are either cut at the end of the episode or allowed to move on to the next set of challenges. Sometimes in Life an individual is “cut” early, but more often we just have to continue on to the next challenge and then the challenge after that and so on…hopefully along the way growing in maturity and getting stronger because of the testing and trying we receive.
(I’m really praying I won’t get any stronger this summer.)