Friday, December 28, 2012

End of the World Soup and a Happy New Year

End of the World Soup and a Happy New Year

What better way to spend the last evening before the end of the world than with friends at the North Harlem Colony for their children’s Christmas musical program. And a musical extravaganza it was, topped off with good food, hugs and fellowship. Had the world ended the next day, as feared, it would have been a good way to go, filled with love and joy.

In the days prior to the projected end of the world, I heard stories about people preparing for the dastardly event, stories that baffled me. What part of “end of the world” did they not get? Am I wrong or does the end not mean THE END? When the world ends, are we not gone? Kaput? So why prepare?

I find it hard to believe how many people swallow these end of world prophesies. What makes one think some kind of Prime Mover sets up a Doomsday calendar with X marks the spot? A Cosmic Game-Master?

If you were in outer space watching the earth’s demise, would destruction roll around in an orderly fashion, from time zone to time zone? Would it look like a crumbling popcorn ball? Or more like an interstellar pizza, devoured slice by slice?

Tell me how stockpiling water and C-rations will allow one to survive the end of the world. Explain why I should rush out and buy my own personal AK-47. What am I supposed to shoot? I don’t get it. If the planet goes “Poof” would you really want to “survive”?

We are not forewarned, for the most part, when our own personal world will end. But in the event the Angel of Death swooped down and announced, “You’re next,” would you rush out to buy Spam for your last meal? Not me. Seriously, what would your last wish be? Wouldn’t you more likely want to hug your children, hold your loved ones in your arms, and tell your special friends you love them?

As it turned out, the world did not end last Friday. Guess what—there’s a whole New Year ready to be born. So why not make sure that everybody you love, that every friend whom you hold in high regard, knows without doubt how you feel. Why not start today. No, not under the mistletoe. Use some discretion, you.

I was raised in a family that seriously lacked communication skills. In the beginning, tossing around the warm fuzzies made me uncomfortable. I persevered and the rewards far outstripped the initial cringing.

Loving the lovable is relatively easy. But what about that one old sorehead in Rudyard, who lives surrounded by all those nice people? It may be hard to out-and-out love such a person, but one may regard him with compassion. We have no idea what it feels like to live in another’s skin. Each life holds formative stories that we’ll never know. Everybody has such stories, even you and me.

I don’t make New Year resolutions. I used to. But they were unrealistic and I never kept them. Instead, I hope to find adventure (and/or fun) in each day, to find worth in every person, to find beauty in the ordinary and to be kind to myself. With love, respect, compassion, tolerance—that’s how I want to engage the world; that’s how I want to be treated. For my own self-respect I try to invest each day with those qualities. I have no guarantee that I’ll reap dividends. Often I fail to put the right coins into my account. But I don’t quit.

The world didn’t end and we have a New Year. So just for fun, let me share a dish of my end-of-the-world soup with you. When my children were young, I served it once a week. I kept a glass gallon jar in the refrigerator into which I poured such things as water drained from boiling the potatoes, leftover vegetables and meats. On soup day I supplemented this with onions, garlic, seasonings, perhaps rice, lentils or pasta. Generally all I needed to do was pour the jar full of goodies into a large pot and heat it. There was nothing “Doomsday” about the soup. No matter what it contained, it always tasted good. It had only one drawback, from which it took its name; it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was quite ugly. But we were poor. It was our way to squeeze every bit of nutrition from every bite of food. I don’t remember who named the soup. No doubt, one of the kids said, “Yuck—this soup looks like the end of the world.” The name stuck.

So join me for a bowl. The soup’s not pretty but it’s full of Happy New Year.

Sondra Ashton

HDN: Looking out my back door

December 27, 2012


1 comment: