Commentary: The lesson of the fork

Robin H. Hurdle

Commentary: The lesson of the fork
December 26
04:30 2019

By Robin H. Hurdle

It sounds like such a silly thing to waste even a second of thought on:  standing in my kitchen and choosing a fork. In my kitchen I have two drawers of flatware, one consisting of mismatched sets from years of trying to organize a well-supplied family kitchen. They are dull with imperfections from years of use but they still can do the job. I know that some of my utensils have been disposed in the trash when my sons hastily cleaned off their plates so they could go play. I would guess some are missing after being snuck out to be used as digging tools by my youngest while he played in the dirt. And there are the “mysterious” pieces left behind after family gatherings.

The other drawer has a beautiful new set. They are shiny unflawed perfect pieces of metal. 

Some people would think that a fork is a fork, but I choose to save the nicer flatware for my family and guests and I use the dull flatware for myself. I want my friends and family to have the best of what I have to offer. In the same way, at many family gatherings I wait to let others go before me as we line up to fill our plates with food. I am the last to sit down to eat and the first to stand up and start clearing the table. This could be seen as the practice of a good southern lady or the mom who needs to take care of everyone first. 

But today while I was making a tuna salad sandwich for my lunch, I realized that I always chose the old blemished forks. I stopped in the middle of the motion as I was retrieving it from the drawer. Why do I keep going to the old fork verses the new fork? I wasn’t expecting anyone to come over and even if someone joined me unexpectedly, I had 11 more new forks to use. 

As I stopped to think about what I was doing, it dawned on me that I have made it so important to keep the best for others, that even when I could have better, I would choose less. But why? As I pondered this conundrum, trying to make some logic of this habit, I had an epiphany. I have spent so much time trying to make others happy by giving them the best that at some point I had decided I was not worthy of better—not even a fork. Don’t get me wrong – I believe in my own self-worth, but it was the little things that I caught myself doing that made me stop and ask myself about the choices I was making. 

I know what you are thinking: why am I spending all this time talking about a fork? I finally figured out that fork is not only a reflection of how much I love my family and friends, but it also illustrates who I believe I am as a person. I need to learn to take care of myself just as much as I love to take care of my family. Loving who I am doesn’t mean I have to stop giving to and caring for the people I love, but it gives me permission to see me as worthy of the little things without the guilt that comes from self-indulgence. 

I decided that I deserved to enjoy the little things in life and to be kind to myself as well as others.

Today I choose the shiny new fork. I hope in the New Year you will choose the shiny fork, too.

Robin H. Hurdle lives in Clemmons with her husband Scott and their three dogs. 

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