As a family of six, we have instilled a sense of reasonableness with respect to how we spend our money. So when the opportunity arises that we can find something we need cheaply, we tend to jump on it.
When the day came that we found this fry pan, we were sure that it would serve as a solid replacement for the one that had lost the usefulness of its non-stick surface. Thrilled to have discovered it for all of three dollars at a yard sale, we took it home, cleaned it well, and even seasoned it in the oven, ready to put it into use.
As you might be able to see from the above photo, that gem of a fry pan is actually now the bane of our culinary experiences. The fry pan not only splatters oil all over our glass cook top, which is just one other annoyance in the never-ending battle to keep it clean, but also had led to more than a few burned palms, which is why I cut up an otherwise perfectly good silicone oven mitt. No matter, the heat of the handle transfers right through despite the added protection. Every time I pull this fry pan out of the cabinet, with the hopes of successful cooking, I am disappointed.
This recurring exercise in frustration got me thinking about why we (specifically me) allow ourselves to believe in the utility of something that, without fail, ends up causing pain, in this case scorched flesh (physical pain) and a greasy mess (mental pain from not having learned from past mistakes).
Our terrible fry pan didn’t cost us hardly anything upfront, but we keep paying dearly for its ongoing presence in our kitchen.
In many ways, this fry pan is allegorical to other “things” in life. Some of the easier ones to identify range from poor habits, like staying up too late, all the way up to full-blown addictions to any vice, like drinking to excess. But there are more nuanced “things,” such as unbalanced, sometimes one-sided friendships and stymieing notions about how we should look/behave/interact in the world.
Our belief in our infallible ability to assess that value of “things” is where we falter. Admittedly, we place nearsighted importance on those “things” that, in the long run, do us no good. We deemed this three-dollar fry pan as a small, albeit worthwhile “investment.” But nowadays, we struggle to find any merit to offset the expense.
And what about those other “things,” those ethereal and intangible “things” that perhaps cost us nothing at the outset but continue to lead to pain? How difficult would it be to stop interacting with that friend who has no interest in a friendship and, instead, makes you feel like you’re nothing more than a means to an end? How hard would it be to let go of the strictures of conformity? Why not say goodbye to that idea that has no basis in evidence?
Because letting go of something, even if it is the blistering hot handle of a sub-par fry pan is a challenge. However, maybe it’s time to move on and free ourselves of our attachments to painful “things.”