All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten is a poetic instruction about life. “Share everything, play fair…clean up your own mess…live a balanced life, learn some and think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance . . . be aware of wonder,” says author Robert Fulghum. The basics tucked inside Fulghum’s writing have led millions of people to see opportunity instead of obligation.
The days we are given can easily become a blur as we’re pulled in different directions, multi-tasking and prioritizing, making time for life’s many demands. Living a balanced life, as Fulghum says, can feel like an impossible task. For too many, life is so full that just getting through the day and moving on to the next, feels like a check-box format of mission accomplished.
What I learned in kindergarten came to mind during a little vacation in the mountains. We celebrated 35 years of friendship with a couple who’ve shared life’s “milk and cookies”, cheered for each other in the “clean up of our own mess[up’s]”, and prayed for one another’s children to “know about how to live and what to do and how to be.” Friendships like that aren’t found, they’re created by deciding to “hold hands and stick together,” through life’s changes and challenges.
Leftovers had accumulated in the fridge during our stay. We could have discarded them and chosen to eat out. But why waste what was bought and created and enjoyed? I took the leftovers of that southwest quinoa casserole, veggies, and spaghetti squash and created a new meal, one that turned out worth repeating. Creating new out of old helped me “learn some and think some”, just like Fulghum’s poem encourages.
Like a reflection of life itself, there is value in the leftovers. We gain lessons in taking responsibility to clean up our own messes, and that hindsight may help someone else along the way. We gain insight about how what we see isn’t all there is to see. There is more potential in things and people than we may give credit. Ideas are often born out of what others may consider (unimportant) leftovers.
On our way home, I received a phone call that solidified my thinking. A simple video about using leftovers to feed another and build relationship had inspired a friend. She invited me to consider the idea, and I want to invite you too. Blessing another, with food and time, is easier than you may think, and you can help combat social isolation in the process.