I was sitting at my kitchen table with three friends. We were snacking on potato chips. A lull in the conversation inspired me to examine my chip.
“Is this a chip or a crumb?” I asked the group. They all responded, “Chip”.
Then I took a bite of it. “Well?” The group had a variety of responses and the discussion came to life.
We sat and pondered the criteria that each individual used to reach a conclusion. One member insisted that in order to be called a potato chip it had to have a roundness. I suggested that a chip was anything that could withstand dipping beyond my clasped forefinger and thumb. We all then agreed immediately that dipping rules can vary and it depended whether the dipping were at home or in public. Everyone knows that “home dipping” allows the fingers to touch the dip and “public dipping” does not.
There are so many ways to consider things that it amazes me how people have such a close idea of undefined measurements. Society and experiences must be out training ground.
If you ask a four-year old about porcupines, they all tell you that the sharp quills are called “porks”. No exceptions! Their grasp of language rules and concepts is greater than their understanding of the world itself.
Our book club got together this month to discuss “The Next Thing on My List” by Jill Smolinski. It is about a woman who becomes the custodian of a list of accomplishments another woman has written and hopes to complete. The creator of the list is killed and the woman who feels responsible for her death, decides to complete it for her. Although the book is comical and enjoyable, the idea of keeping a list of “hopeful things” made our discussion personal. We each took turns reciting 5 things from our own list of hopefuls. While listening to others, I realized that hopes and wishes have a blurred, overlapping territory. I hoped to one day learn how to operate a backhoe. Another member dreamed of knowing that her kids were comfortable,settled and happy.
Our lists proved so very interesting, we learned about each other in ways we hadn’t imagined. Even after the meeting, people paired off to compare notes on specific items brought up from our lists.
This whole piece is dedicated to the varied and communal sides of our human experience. How we somehow know when a rock is a boulder not a stone and a chip is a crumb.