By Susie Ekberg
Here is yet another installment of our beloved children’s questions. While on the surface they appear to be simple questions, the answers they elicit are anything BUT simple. They are complex and multi-layered, just like the “simple” questions.
Q: Why is corn yellow?
A: At first pass I am wont to answer: we assume that ALL corn is yellow, because that’s what we usually see—yellow corn. But it’s really not just yellow. It can be white, light yellow, deep yellow, orange, brown, black, and multi-colored.
Then I think about a picture of corn in a coloring book. You have a box of 64 crayons. You can color that corn any color, or combination of colors, that you want. Who’s to say what the “right” color is, or the “best” color, for that matter?
Or maybe you dream about a purple corn cob that’s wearing a top hat and dances? Where did that image come from? You’ve used a “normal” image of corn, but then your wonderful imagination dressed it up to be a colorful dancer.
We are born with our minds an open slate. We have no preconceived notions about anything. As we become older, the outside world begins to “order” our world, helping us distinguish between the colors, helping us learn the names of things, helping us learn concepts such as right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable.
These are really important things to learn because otherwise we might have chaos. But I think it’s also important to leave room for imagination, for the things that may fall outside the “ordering” realm.
We may want to make sense of everything, to understand why all corn is yellow. When I want to say, “What do YOU think about corn? What else can it be used for? Does it remind you of anything else? A pen? A baseball bat? A microphone?” You can retain that sense of openness and possibility and wonder. Not everything needs to be ordered and figured out.
In fact, MOST things in this world and Universe CAN’T be figured out, not totally, not really. We know that everything in the universe is energy, and mostly just air. We “see” things as solid because their molecules are arranged in a certain way and vibrate at a certain frequency, but that doesn’t really EXPLAIN things, does it? It doesn’t explain things to me—it makes me feel that everything is a big huge mystery, though, so that’s pretty cool.
Like yellow corn. What makes it ‘yellow?’ Somebody, somewhere, at some time, decided that when something has this particular hue and tint. It’s called “yellow” in English. There are a lot of other names for that color in other languages as well.
But now I’ll ask you this: what makes it corn? Same reason why it’s called yellow. Just because someone somewhere at some time decided on that particular name.
But really, that buttered food that you’re about to eat just IS, really. Just like that thing out in your front yard that you like to climb just IS.
“But it’s a tree,” you tell me. Again, so-called, just because someone decided to call it that.
I first figured out this concept of naming and labeling when I read that scientists are still discovering plants and animals and stars, and when they find something new, the first thing they do is name it.
Before that, it just WAS. But now we’ve got a name for it.
Giving something a name doesn’t make it REAL. It just gives it a name. We don’t experience anything differently just because we can label it. We experience things because we’re here, and we’re connected to everything else and are a part of everything, and while we’re experiencing things, they’re also experiencing US at the same time.
Funny? An ear of yellow corn experiencing us? I guarantee you it’s going to know something is up as you’re biting into it. On what level, I’m not sure. But for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The first law of energy.
I just want to put forth the possibility that the world is greater than we may have been led to believe in our education thus far. Yellow corn is yellow because we say it’s yellow and because we say it’s corn. But I think it’s possible to exist in this world still using the useful system of labeling and naming AND just being open to the experiences without the labels and names.
We may think too much. Maybe it’s okay just to BE, with whatever it is. Corn or trees or dogs or the feeling of the wind on your face. Just relax into that newborn’s mind for a moment and experience that bliss of not-knowing and just-being. It could be a lot of fun.
Q: Why don’t worms have hands or feet?
A: Hah! I just got a great visual. Have you ever read “Diary of a Worm?” It’s great, very clever. But even those worms don’t have hands or feet.
Here’s what I think: I think this Universe is very, very clever, and is always working to help us be the best that we can. There are many different kinds of ‘us-es’ here in the world, and we’re all here with different strengths and gifts.
Some of us are eagles, and can see and fly really well. Some of us are flowers, and are colorful and smell really good. Some of us are grass, which grows to feed others and keep the soil from blowing away. Some of us are tigers, and are very strong and fast. We all have an important job to do, so to do that job we need to look a certain way.
Hands are necessary for holding things, for opening things, for climbing, for chopping (to name just a few). Feet are good for walking, running, jumping, kicking and cute shoes. Those are some of the activities that we humans do every day, so it is useful to have hands and feet. People CAN get along without them, but they really ARE useful to have.
Worms are amazing creatures. They help aerate the ground, they help give nutrients to the ground with their slime, they help feed animals and birds. And they do this all by wriggling underground. Their little bodies are PERFECTLY equipped to help them fulfill their life’s work here on Earth. They’re streamlined to help them push through the earth easily. There’s nothing extra about them. They’re perfect just the way they are.
Just like YOU’RE perfect just the way you are.
You have everything you need to accomplish your life’s Work here on Earth, just like the worm. But maybe you’re not told that enough, or at all.
So if you want to, you can think about all of the things that you can do, and do well. Think about all of things that make you YOU, that make you different than the flower or the grass or the tiger. Or the worm.
Think about how great that is that every single creature, plant, EVERYTHING, in this world is unique. Even if we’re all humans, we’re all different, even if we’re identical twins.
Now be happy that you’re the only you, and see if you can find ways to be the best You in the world. Give the world the greatest gift you can give –- the gift of you, 100%. Perfect, perfectly designed, and full of gifts and strengths.
Then live 100%, all the time. Just like that sweet little worm in your backyard. I guarantee you SHE’S living 100%. She has to. It’s all she knows. It’s the same with you. I think that little worm knows she’s perfect, even if she doesn’t have hands and feet. She doesn’t want them. She doesn’t need them. She’s 100% exactly as she is.
100% is what you exactly are, all the time, even if you’ve forgotten. I just reminded you.
Susie’s note: In response to an e-mail I received about my ‘bad drivers’ column, I would like to say that although I think it’s important for all of us to practice kind driving, it’s imperative that we remain defensive drivers. As my grandfather told me, “Drive as if everyone else were crazy.” That advice has served me well. So I add to that column the acknowledgement that car accidents ARE a reality, that some (most?) are caused by road rage, calling and texting, and other general lapses of sanity. So while we are working on our own enlightenment, let us not forget to be aware of others out there who may not be so diligent. Let us remain kind AND diligent. That will help to keep us all safe. Thank you for your e-mail, Z.
Driving update: I have now been practicing ‘kind driving’ since the ‘angry driver’ column was published, and have been able to stay kind by making the decision beforehand. I have only had to honk twice at drivers - both times they were on cell phones and drifting in my lane, almost hitting me. I still feel anger welling up sometimes, but I always stop - take a deep breath… and smile. So far it’s working! I choose to keep being a kind driver.
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