I don't know about you guys, but I never really pay much attention to expiration dates. Unlike my husband who won't go near food if it is a single day past the date on the packaging, I generally think of expirations as a suggestion. I usually take the lid off, take a big whiff, and if it still smells edible then in my mind, it is. I recognize the danger of this, however, and in the event that I contract a nasty bout of food poisoning I reserve the right to retract my statement. However, up to this point, I've never made myself sick by eating bread that was one day "stale" or cereal that tasted a little like cardboard. Hell, if the milk doesn't have that funky sour smell, I'm gonna drink it.
That being said, I was thinking the other day about how expiration dates apply to life. Are there certain things that will eventually expire whether we want them to or not? Do things go sour or get stale or simply turn brown and start decaying? It's a weird way to think about life, but after some self reflection, I think the answer is undoubtedly yes. If you're a control freak like me, admitting that there are things that you have absolutely no control over is ridiculously painful, but it's a fact of life. No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop the inevitable. So in the same way perishables "expire," so do certain aspects of our lives.
Friendships, for example, tend to have a rather short shelf life. Like bananas, they are green with potential in the beginning. But then as they begin to ripen, their true colors begin to show through. Sometimes, you can find the perfect, golden yellow banana that fufills your snacking desires to the tenth degree. But other times, that perfect banana that was so beautiful a few days ago, is now covered with brown spots and mushy to the touch. You didn't want it to happen and you certainly never intended to let it get that far, but it did. And now you have a choice. Eat the mushy banana and know that it will never be as crisp and refreshing as it used to be, or chunk the poor thing and seek riper fruit elsewhere. In my lifetime, I have seen far too many friendships turn brown. Some of these lost friendships still haunt me to this day and the pain of those losses still break me more times than I care to admit. It's sad to think about, but in reality I think a large number of friendships eventually turn brown and are no longer worth eating.
I think it's safe to argue that expiration dates also apply to romantic relationships. When you buy a gallon of milk, you assume that it will last you quite some time. I mean, it's a whole gallon. And it 2%--the exact type that you like. Surely that will be enough to satisfy your needs, right? But then time passes and you begin to forget why you bought the milk in the first place. You forget to drink it and you don't spend time making sure your calcium and dairy needs are met. You prefer the fresh squeezed orange juice or the apple juice you saw someone else rocking. Or you find that you and that milk just don't get along (lactose intolerant peeps, am I right?) So then you're left with half a gallon of sour milk. You don't want to throw it out--it was expensive! But you also can't drink sour milk. So what do you do? You eventually pour it down the drain, nurse your broken heart, and then move on to newer and fresher gallons of milk.
I think you get where I'm going with this. Jobs, hairstyles, fashion trends, finances, and hell, our own existence all have expiration dates.
Sounds kinda terrible, doesn't it? Geeze, Kim. Good job depressing your readers by telling them that everything in life will eventually die. BUT, hang on. I promise there's a point to all of this and you don't want to miss it.
Yes, the majority of things in life have an expiration date. So do we simply accept the facts and wait for these things in our life to expire? Do we sit back and do nothing? Do we embrace the finality of it all and just curl up in the fetal position and ponder our miserable plight?
No, my friends, we don't. Sure, there are things that we can't control and certain expiration dates that we can't avoid. BUT there's no reason why we can try to extend the shelf life a bit. Or better yet, completely ignore the date altogether.
If something in your life is decaying, something that you desperately wish to hang on to, then fight like hell for it. If you've lost friendships along the way, then make sure that you cherish every new friend that you make. Take the lessons you learned from all those bad bananas and be the type of friend that is worth having and keeping. If your relationships are failing, don't just sit back and wait for them to be completely sour. Communicate with each other and don't be afraid to speak what's on your mind and your heart. If it works, awesome. If it doesn't, at least you won't feel so guilty about moving on and buying that new gallon of milk.
I'm not saying it won't be hard and that it won't be painful, but I feel like there's a large number of people out there who live their lives counting down to the expiration dates. That's no way to live in my opinion. Stop looking at the labels, people! Stop being afraid or held back by your pain. If you never get a little crazy and eat the gooey,fermented grapes, are you really living? It won't kill you, I promise.
If I'm being honest, this is something I am struggling with myself. My dream of becoming a published author seems so very far away. In fact, most days all I see is a mushy, brown banana. Part of me wants to give up--it's time, after all. The banana is no good. It's past it's expiration date. But the other part of me says, "No, Kim! It's not!" Yes, the banana is mushy and brown, but guess what? THOSE bananas are the ones that make the sweetest banana bread. So stop being a chicken shit and make bread already!
Wow. It sounds so simple doesn't it? Just make bread.
I guess where I am going with all of this is yes, everything has an expiration date. But that doesn't mean we have to stop living or we have to give up the things we really want. Stop letting the dates define you. Stop letting the dates make your choices for you. Stop letting those dates tell you that you can't.
Because you want to know what doesn't have an expiration date?
Passion. Courage. Faith. Drive. Ambition. Love. Kindness. Perseverance.
And with all of those things, you never have to obsess about a date. You can close your eyes, take a bite of the french fries covered in year old ketchup and know that no matter what comes you can handle it.
You can do it.
So, I'm gonna take my own advice and work towards making a delightful little loaf of banana bread. It may take me forever, but I refuse to let this dream of mine expire.
The simple truth is this: Life itself may have an expiration date, but living, really living life to the fullest will never grow sour.
So, my dear friends, go out there and live. Live and live well.
Until next time, Folks!