One day, my wife and I made the decision in a Crate & Barrel to buy grapefruit spoons. We even went and bought several grapefruits and ate them with those grapefruit spoons.
But it never became a habit.
We moved several times after that, and the grapefruit spoons always came with us, but they mostly stayed in the drawer.
It’s a minor thing. A pair of small, serrated spoons that take up an almost unnoticeable amount of space.
But that’s just it — almost.
I know the spoons are there. I know they’re not being used. I know we intended to use them, and now we hang on to them long after the seriousness of the intention has passed.
Buying the spoon wasn’t just about the utility of the thing, but the identity it created.
I’m the person who makes a healthy choice and eats a grapefruit in the morning regularly enough to require specialized flatware.
The purchase came ahead of the identity. The desired identity came ahead of the work of becoming that person.
And it leaves me with three options:
- Do nothing constructive. Keep the spoons and feel annoyed every time you notice them. Regret the purchase and the desire to have that identity.
- Abandon the spoons. Chuck them out, and decide that either the identity wasn’t that important or grapefruits (as an object) aren’t that important.
- Do the work to own that identity. Buy some grapefruit. Eat the grapefruit.
Lately I feel aware of the other things in my life that feel like grapefruit spoons, and that it’s time to make some choices.
Option one doesn’t feel healthy or wise. Option two has its merits, since reducing attachments and commitments allows for more focus on what’s left behind. But option three has its merits, as well.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for everything, but sometimes you need to confront where choices have to be made.
Because it feels better to see yourself as the sum total of what you choose to do, rather than to just feel the accumulated weight of the things you held onto and left unused.