I remember all of the lectures growing up, how “there’s a time and a place for everything”. The three taboos in my household were simple – Do not discuss with others:
or 3. The boy you like.
It seemed pretty simple at the time, but then society taught me a plethora of news ones.
Growing up, I learned the hard way that pants and shoes are required in public, that you’re not supposed to ask family members if they bought you something for Christmas, and that telling someone loudly that they have food on their face can lead to their sudden embarrassment when the rest of the room turns to look.
As I got older, these social rules became tighter. My private school had fine dining for lunch and all of the formalities that accompanied it. There was a time and a place to gross my friends out with my chewed up food, to eat with my hands, to slouch, to not wait for the prayer before eating, to fling peas into the ceiling tiles, or to talk incessantly – and this meal time was not the time, an this dining hall was not the place. Especially if the school headmaster or stringent Latin teacher was heading your table assignment.
I was always challenged by being kind to those who were not kind to me in high school. I was told to not speak ill of those who, I knew, were speaking ill of me behind my back. There was a time and a place to say how I feel, and it was either at home, in secrecy, or never at all.
In college and in my professional life, it feels like there is never a time or a place. I’m always being watched, I’m always on my toes, I’m always trying to make friends but also keep on top, and I’m always being evaluated.
But what I want to know is, if there is a time and a place for everything, then why does it only apply to social etiquette??
This occurred to me as I was sitting in a meeting and noticed someone had a coffee mug koozy with a plug coming out of it. I thought, that takes a little out of the moment, doesn’t it? When I pour a mug of hot tea, part of enjoying the moment is knowing it’s temporary.
When I was younger, my Grandma M. would tell me that her most memorable Christmas gift growing up was an orange.
“It was the most expensive gift I had ever had. No one could get oranges in December without paying an arm and a leg for it. And now look at all of these rotting oranges getting thrown out of the grocer’s.”
I’m constantly frustrated by the juxtaposition in modern American society of do this, be that, follow these deadlines to the Verizon Wireless minute on one side of the coin, then be lazy, use energy like it grows on trees, and waste things. How is it we have to put on this façade of being one way socially, but we can be immoral, unappreciative people behind closed doors?
I want everything I do to be an orange. I want to know not just its
value but also its worth. I don’t want to live with this American mentality that things are disposable and easily replaced. I don’t want to live with an undeserving sense of entitlement. I won’t treat myself to something special just to soothe tugs of nostalgia but rather I will appreciate its absence and honor its time and place
And I will never look at an orange the same way again.