At this point, the vast majority of you are already busy composing a comment to me regarding the typo in the title of today’s blog post. In fact, there is no error to be had; I intentionally used the word “tine” as opposed to “thine.” With all due apologies to William Shakespeare, I refer not to the famous line delivered by Polonius to Laertes in Act I Scene 3 of Hamlet. Rather, I speak of that well-known and time-honored mealtime utensil; the common dinner fork.
A few weeks back, I received a wonderful email from a member of my growing blog audience. In the short note, the reader suggested that I could even draw deeper meaning from something as common as a soup spoon! I took it as a friendly challenge. On more than one occasion, I gazed into a stainless steel spoon seeking inspiration. I would watch my reflection go from right side up to upside down, as I twirled the object in my hand. No great cosmic energy seemed to be radiating from that piece of polished metal.
Letting out a deep sigh, I returned the spoon to its cradle in the utensil drawer. It was then that I saw it! Thoughts began to fly wildly through my mind and my pulse quickened. The muses were perched on my shoulder and screaming into my ears. I had found the answer in the spoon’s cousin; a simple dinner fork! But this was no ordinary fork; rather than the usual four tines, this awe-inspiring fork only possessed three tines!
The next thing I knew, every single fork in the house had been laid out on the kitchen table. My suspicions had just been confirmed; it was the only three-tine fork we owned! All of the other forks were mismatched, having been collected from long-forgotten sources over the years. But none of them displayed the distinctive trio of tines that my new-found source of literary inspiration did.
Recently I have gone out of my way to use this particular fork at every meal. When I set the table, I assure that all of the other settings contain the traditional four-tine fork. My napkin is always graced by the presence of the unique fork. Now by no means would any of my friends or family call me obsessive-compulsive; yet I find myself inexplicably drawn to the oddball utensil.
I have taken the time for serious introspection the last few days. I have tried to find a reason for my infatuation with this particular eating implement. Hours of mediation have not led me to any single conclusion. Do I feel sorry for this fork because it is one of a kind? Do I possess a contrarian streak that only emerges at mealtime? Are three tines any more effective or efficient than four tines? Am I slowly beginning to lose my grip on reality?
At lunchtime today, my eating utensil buddy were once again reunited. I was using the business end of the fork to cut through a burrito. Rolling the tortilla, beans, and green chili around in my mouth, it all suddenly became clear! There is nothing like microwaved soy-based products to open up the deepest recesses of the mind. I was using this fork only because it was different.
At one point or another, every other member of the family had shunned the three-tined fork. They had offered to swap it out with somebody else’s or they put it back and the drawer after selecting an appropriate substitute. The rogue fork works just as well as any of the others in the house. There is no difference in how its handle works or how it feels in your mouth. Its only crime is that it is different; and for that reason its is rejected.
All of us have a natural aversion to that which is different. We grow accustomed to the safety of the routine. We nurture our reluctance to explore and hesitate to reach out to others. We fear and avoid that which is not familiar. Yet when it is all said and done, we are robbing ourselves of the possible joy and fulfillment that awaits us by taking a risk. Just because something or someone is different does not mean that it is any better or worse. It is simply different.
So grab that three-tined fork residing in your mind and let’s dig into some pie. In between bites, I will tell you all about the double-edged dinner knife I just found!