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The Problem with Cinnamon

September 19, 2020

I have a problem. Often my husband comes home from a long night shift at work and eats his breakfast. His breakfast usually consists of cereal, upon which he sprinkles cinnamon. What’s the problem with that, you may ask? Well, it turns out that when you sprinkle real cinnamon on cereal it leaves a residue that a dishwasher has some trouble removing, especially if it’s been sitting in the bowl for a bit. So when I go to remove the bowls my dear husband has used from the dishwasher excited to see them clean, my hopes are dashed because the cinnamon remains. Once it goes through the dishwasher, it’s nearly impossible to remove whatever is still caked on, too.  It’s absolutely maddening.

It would be really easy for me to go, “UGH! Him and his cereal. I wish he could do without the cinnamon, or at least rinse it out after he’s done!” But then I remind myself how much joy he brings to my life, the millions of laughs we’ve shared. The exhilarating “ups” and the terrifying “downs” we’ve been through together. And I realize that with all that we have been through – the good and the bad — a little cinnamon residue cleaning is not so much to ask of me. Nor is it his fault that the cinnamon does, what is cinnamon is going to do: stick to things. So despite my irritation, how could I take it out on him? I couldn’t possibly. What do I do then? I shake my head, grab a little vinegar and clean the bowl out.

But here’s one life lesson I take from the cinnamon resistant to virtually all cleaning methods: If cinnamon defiantly sticking to the surface of a bowl is the worst thing I face during the day – the only thing I have to really worry about in my day to day life – then I am doing better than 99.9% of people out there. It’s a cue for me to remember that life is never as bad as it may seem. What’s your cue?

That quiz that you failed, that snarky comment one of your sorority sisters made that hurt you, the bad break up you had with your ex-girlfriend when she cheated… Is it really the worst thing that could ever happen to you?  Or is it just the cinnamon sticking the bowl of your life after a tasty life experience? Are you still doing better than 99.9% of people on this planet?

More importantly, are you willing to forgo the spicy of life because of the mess it may leave behind? Or are you going to learn how to clean it up, start fresh and set yourself up for the best experiences life has to offer? Resiliency is what I am getting at here. Your ability to bounce back and see the cinnamon of life for what it is, a short term resolvable problem, is going to serve you immensely as you learn to “adult”.

Here’s another lesson I take from it: How many times have you been in this situation in high school or college? Irritated with a friend who wasn’t as supportive as you thought they should be, a project group that just couldn’t come together to get the work done, a lab partner who stood to the side while you did the work, a TA (Teaching Assistant) you felt was being overly strict in his/her grading or whomever else, for things they had no control over, or worse, things that you had control over and didn’t want to admit that you did. I know I have been in those situations. Oh, how I wish I could redo some of the moments where this was the case. It would have meant so much less mental stress for me. But I can’t undo it.

So I put this lesson out you in the virtual space, hoping that it will do you good – help you stress less and achieve more – to have a reminder to take a moment and consider if what you’re being upset over is cinnamon caked in a bowl. Can you move past the cinnamon? Can you pull out the cleaning supplies with a smile when others drop their minor cinnamon bowls in your sink? It may not be easy, but it’ll be worth it.