When Life Comes Unwrapped

Forrest Gump’s momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolate. You’ll never know what you’ll get.” Maybe so, but I say life is really more like a handheld burrito or a sandwich wrap made by the new guy. Think about it…

You mosey up to a food truck and choose the perfect wrap. With great anticipation, you accept the little bundle of perfection and head to a nearby picnic table. Carefully, you peel back the paper wrapper like that one cousin at Christmas who insists on being able to recycle the wrapping paper. Come on, man. No one is actually going to save the paper. Let’s get to the good stuff!

Like the perfectly wrapped gift, there is an art to the sandwich wrap. You can’t just slap one together like a traditional sandwich with a bun or bread slices. The wrap requires the perfect ratio of ingredients to sauce all pulled together with just the right tension in order to achieve its ultimate goal – to keep your hands clean while eating it.

The new guy didn’t get the memo. Before you take a bite, the whole thing falls apart in your hands landing in that flimsy paper “bowl.” The carefully rationed ingredients are now in a heap. Had you wanted one of those Poke bowls that are all the rage these days, you would have hit the place down the street. Instead your hands are a mess. Everything is a mess.

Life is like a wrap made by the new guy. It’s gonna fall apart at times.

You plot your course. School. Career. Marriage. Family. Retirement. Yet despite all of your careful planning, it falls apart. Your hands are a mess. Life is a mess. Everything is a mess.

Whatcha gonna do?

Slow Down

Whether it’s your wrap or your life that is falling apart, both have a tendency to force you to slow down and reassess. So many questions -Is it worth the extra effort? Is it worth the mess? Things are different. How am I going to tackle the unexpected changes? When wraps and life disintegrate before your eyes, it’s an unwelcomed reminder opportunity to slow down.

Smaller problems obviously don’t require a full-scale halt and reassessment of life. But some circumstances do. My spouse left. How best to spend what little energy I have? My business is failing. Where do I find the strength to regroup? My loved one is struggling with addiction. Where are my priorities? With all of the fixings splayed out, we get a chance to enjoy them individually. We get to throw out the pieces that we didn’t really want any way. Sometimes, we have to accept that the new guy forgot to include our favorite part. The one scrumptious morsel to which we most looked forward simply is nowhere to be found among the debris.

The degree of the mess in our laps may dictate a timeline, but eventually we can (and should) enjoy the meal. Taste buds may be dulled at first, but as we settle in to a new reality, our senses return. At some point, we may even begin to see the value of the sandwich bowl over the wrap. We can’t plow through the bowl at the same pace. When the wrap comes undone – we get a chance to slow down. We are able to digest it all in little bites rather than speedy gulps. We are able to savor each taste.

Of course, we could just abandon the wrap sandwich bowl and start over, but what a waste.

Value in the Mess

We think that the point of the perfect wrap or the boss burrito is to provide a built-in system for maintaining neatness during the meal.

Neatness is to a wrap as control is to life.

It’s an illusion. Even when the experienced line cook puts it together, the wrap is gonna break from time to time. When it does, we need to remember that the purpose of wrap is to nourish us (and hopefully to be tasty along the way) – not to keep our hands tidy. Wraps, burritos, and life are messy!

It may no longer look the way we imagined, but we can still be nourished by the broken wrap.

We can still be nourished by a broken life.

We (the collective “we,” meaning “me”) are an incredibly selfish lot on whole. We want it our way and we want it now. We so often operate under the notion that life is about us – our happiness, our success, our [fill in the blank]. We want everything tied up with a neat bow and delivered to our doorsteps before the day is up. Newsflash, if it’s about you (me) at all – it’s about learning to extend a hand and to extend a heart for a neighbor in need. It’s about seeking humility in order to live boldly. It’s about slowing down and sharing a meal.

So often, once a burrito or life lays before us in a pile, we struggle to see it’s worth. Toss it out. Start over. Whoa!  We can still nibble away at the mess. At first, we’re in denial, shaking our heads in disbelief. We may get angry that we couldn’t put it all back together the way we had planned. At some point, we have to accept that neither sandwiches nor life come wrapped in neat packages and just dig in with our fingers.




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