When I was young, my mom had this orange Tupperware bowl. And every time we watched a movie at home and popped popcorn, we would put it in that bowl, specifically. To put popcorn in a different bowl was unheard of. To use that bowl for another purpose besides popcorn was also a rarity.
I’m not sure how old I was when I realized that I could put popcorn in a different bowl. Perhaps it was around the time we had to start using another bowl out of necessity. I vaguely remember that orange bowl later as a little deformed–perhaps someone left it to close to the stove and it melted a little. At any rate, it’s been years since I’ve seen it. Nonetheless, at some point, my mindset changed. I believed, as a child, that each bowl or utensil in my parents’ kitchen had one specific purpose–one popcorn bowl, one bowl I ate applesauce out of, one spatula to mix up cake batter. One tool, one function. Habit. Tradition. Unwavering, steadfast, closeminded.
I think this mindset is just a part of the nature of a child. Children, who must adjust to a new teacher every year, who grow out of clothes and shoes after mere months, whose best friends change almost weekly, must have some sense of security, something that never changes, be it popcorn bowl or security blanket or favorite storybook.
Eventually, though, we have to grow out of that. We can’t keep changing, into adolescents and then adults, while still holding onto the way we’ve always done things.
We push the limits; we break a few rules. Read Jack Kerouac, listen to indie music, get a tattoo. We put our popcorn in different bowls.
I’ve always considered myself resistant to change. I still do, in a lot of ways. I like my books in alphabetical order. I like waking up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much sleep I’ve had the night before. But to have those small routines is fine, as long as I’m open to progress in other ways. And I don’t freak out if my routine or plans change.
I’m currently working on a paper about Their Eyes Were Watching God. I’ve constructed an introduction and a thesis statement about the role that Jody Starks plays in the novel, with his controlling force and with the progress he brings to the town in which he lives. I spent half an hour reading the passage I’m writing about, highlighting, outlining, and re-writing my thesis. I’m putting more effort into the pre-writing process than I would have if I were writing this simple four-page paper as an undergrad. In some ways, my American lit class is frustrating, but in regards to the paper-writing, I feel challenged to provide a good, argumentative thesis. At NGU, I knew what my professors were expecting of me, and I was able to fulfill that expectation. In grad school, the environment is different, the expectations are unknown, and I’m working harder to accomplish this goal. I’m changing.
I’m also hungry. I think popcorn will make a nice, paper-writing snack, don’t you? And this time, I think I’ll eat it straight out of the bag. 🙂