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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

Killing the Cat, Jay Shetty, a Pot Roast, and Indiana Jones

Ever have a lengthy conversation with a three year old? Why this and why that. I don't know if curiosity only killed the cat. It may have killed off a parent's patience too. But that's what kids do. They are supposed to ask questions. They are supposed to be curious. What's not good is when adults lose that curiosity.

I am enjoying the book "8 Rules of Love" by Jay Shetty. I am only in the second rule, and my mind is going crazy asking questions about myself and my long-held beliefs. He uses an analogy of a mental archaeologist digging into the past. Jay Shetty is saying we should search our own histories to decide why we make the decisions we make and do the things we do.

I love this section in particular being my BA is in Archaeology. Except my analysis was on stone tools, not human emotions. However, Archaeology is a subspecialty of Anthropology, which is the study of groups of humans. With Archaeology, the humans are dead, so we study what they left behind.

My favorite definition of Archaeology was told to me by Dr. Richard Lane at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota back in the 1990s. I don't know if he made it up or got it from another source, but he said, "Archaeology is the study of dead people's garbage." I love that definition! Straight and to the point. It's not Indiana Jones type looting. It's digging through garbage. How many of our decisions are based on our own historical mental garbage?

There was something else Dr. Lane said in class one day that Jay Shetty indirectly reminded me of reading his book. Again, I have no idea if Dr. Lane made it up, or if he got it from somewhere else. But it's a story I have often reflected on and have shared with others. I don't know what others get from it, but it makes me question beliefs I have about myself, others around me, and various cultural patterns and traditions; some I have considerately discarded and some I thoughtfully hold dear. The story, not quite word for word, is as follows:

One day, a mother was preparing a pot roast for dinner. Her daughter watched with curiosity. The mother cut off one fourth of the pot roast and set that piece aside as she continued to season the rest of the roast. She placed it into the roasting pan and placed the pan into the hot oven.

Her daughter asked, "Mother, why do you always cut off a part of the roast before putting it into the oven?"

Her mother replied, "Because my mother taught me to do it that way. It's tradition."

As the smell of the roast filled the home, the mother got to thinking. She called her mother and asked, "Mother, why did you always cut off a portion of the pot roast before putting it into the oven?'

Her mother thought a moment and replied, "That's what my mother did. It's tradition."

After a while, that mother got to thinking deeply on the question. She decided it was time to visit her mother, the matriarch of the family. She went to her home and asked, "Mother, why did you always cut off a portion of the pot roast before putting it into the roasting pan for Sunday dinners? Was it for a making a special gravy? For lunches the rest of the week? Why?"

"Well," said the matriarch, "Don't you remember how small my roasting pan was? It was the only way I could get it to fit in my pan. And the butcher wouldn't cut me a smaller piece for a discount. So, it was a waste not to get the whole cut."

"That's it? That's the only reason why?"

"Of course. What did you think?"

Asking questions is a good thing, especially for bringing to light long-held beliefs that may or may not be true. Curiosity is too often suppressed when it should be nurtured. It's more likely the lack of questions that could kill the cat, not the questions themselves.

Is it possible I am holding onto a belief about myself that came from an innocent thing I have entirely miss-construed? I think so. I think I have held onto the belief that my value as a human has to do with my ability to be productive. As someone with health challenges, that is not a healthy belief. That leads to de-valuing myself and what I can and do offer to society from my own little corner of the world. Which, in turn, probably affects my self-esteem, and that affects my writing negatively. And there is a cycle that should be broken.

Or, maybe my hesitancy to put words to paper comes from my long-held belief that I have nothing to contribute because I was raised where I felt uncomfortable to speak about my needs. I don't think that was the intention, but it was my perception.

It also probably makes me put importance on things that others around me don't, and then I wonder why they don't. And maybe vice versa, leading to unnecessary disputes over things that may have started off innocent.

Delving into our long-held beliefs, individually or in families, can be a scary ordeal. If we got comfortable with curiosity, we could end long-standing arguments that may turn out to be about entirely innocuous topics when the heart of the matter is exposed.

Asking why questions should not be as fraught with danger as Indiana Jones running away from a giant boulder. If it is, then we've got bigger problems to dig out of the garbage heap and roast in the oven.

Did that story about the pot roast make you pause about a long-held belief about yourself or a family tradition?

Side bar: Please allow a moment to point out that Jay Shetty is a vegetarian I believe? I mean no disrespect by talking about his book and important lesson in the same blog post as a story about a pot roast. Only in the lesson are they related. I hope he is okay with that.

Thanks for reading!

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Humor In Chaos


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