I remember as a little girl, waking up in the morning to the smell of coffee brewing and bacon cooking or cinnamon flavored oatmeal simmering. I remember the scent of fresh bread baking in the oven. I know the exact moment when a cake begins to rise. It is that moment when the aroma of the melted butter and sugar combine to fill every room of the home. Sitting in my bedroom, doing homework or reading comic books, I always knew the dinner menu. I knew the distinction between chicken baking or being fried; pork chops being smothered; cabbage that was “cooking down” or beans being boiled. I learned to make pancakes, corn bread and rolls from scratch. The process that produced the scents, the time and energy of the preparation to generate the aromas, these things represent life to me. These things smell like home.
I picked up my grandson one Monday morning to take him to school. As he entered the car, I felt compelled to ask, “Is your iron broken?” His jeans were wrinkled, as was his T-shirt. His sneakers were untied and, it was apparent to me that he had barely, if at all, brushed his hair or his teeth. Nor had he eaten breakfast; he would do that in school. He had done his homework – – online and, he had no textbooks in his back pack. I was taught and trained to iron on Saturday, everything I planned to wear the next week. My training still compels me to bathe at night and “wash the tight places” in the morning to give me time to eat breakfast, at home, at the kitchen table These things are what I call, “home training.”
My stepson was a bit surprised, but his girlfriend said she understood when I objected to her and my stepson sharing a bedroom during her holiday visit. In my house, my training rules reign. I was pleasantly surprised when she announced she would be getting up early on Sunday morning to go to church with her friends. I was awake and stirring when her ride came. I thought she was going to church. She assured me that was the plan. “Like that?” She was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and Uggs. As a little girl, I was not allowed to wear pants to church. I also believe that if I didn’t wear my patent leather shoes or a slight heel, I was surely going straight to hell! I know times and things and people and standards and values have changed. I am very aware that women wear pants everywhere these days but, jeans and Uggs to church? Sleeping with your boyfriend in his mother’s house?
My grandchildren make and eat oatmeal from an envelope. When they eat breakfast, they are accustomed to their eggs being frozen on a biscuit, being cooked in the microwave, eaten as they walk to school. My 20 year old granddaughter only irons when she is “going out.” She doesn’t know about ironing sheets, pillow cases or the bandanas she wears to match her outfits. My grandsons do not know how to make French Fries with real potatoes or Turkey burgers from a package of the ground meat. As things have shifted and advanced, I am aware that we now have a generation of people who are accustomed to instant living – getting the things they want fast, with no understanding of the process it takes to make them or the patience required to enjoy them.
Instant grits was the final straw for me. In order to get the true flavor and essence of grits, they must cook for at least 15 minutes. If they don’t, you simply don’t have the time to cook the bacon, beat the eggs and perk the coffee.
Instant living, I believe is at the root of the stress, aggression and hostility we witness and experience in the world today. When you do not understand that life is a process that you cannot rush, you do not develop patience, tolerance or compassion. When you are not willing to take the time to be adequately prepared it will be difficult to realize the full essence and meaning of your life experiences.
Preparation means moving through whatever you are going through step by step, moment by moment. Without process and preparation chances are you will not be able to exercise trust, faith or understanding at the time you need it most. Instant living robs us of valuable skills. It lends to the arrested development of psychological and emotional maturity. When you demand it now, expect it fast and are willing to cut corners or eliminate steps to get what you want, life moves faster than it needs to and, you grow slower than you want to.
Instant living means that we make it happen; feel good fast; have it now; get it quick; do it, have it, be it now. Instant living could well be at the root of the rise of teenage pregnancy and the spread of HIV; no process, no preparation; just get it, do it, have it – NOW! Perhaps it is this same mindset that leads to the preparation and communication breakdowns that plague our marriages, classrooms and corporations. Instant living defies connection or collaboration. It mocks patience, cooperation and good home training.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things about living fast and instant gratification that I really appreciate. I do enjoy spray starch over the kind you have to boil. I have, on occasion cheated by using frozen, ready-made pie crusts for Thanksgiving rather than rolling the dough myself. Here, however, is the distinction, I know how to do what needs to be done so I get to choose. When all you know is Instant Living you have very few resources in your tool box for emergencies. You have fewer possibilities to consider when your back is against the wall. When your grits and oatmeal are instant, your eggs micro-waved and the only burgers you know comes as pre-shaped patties, life loses meaning. Relationships become outings. Education becomes a burden. Home has no familiar aroma and, your brain loses cells.
This Week’s Reading:
The God Memorandum by Og Mandino
Available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/3876809/The-God-Memorandum
About Iyanla Vanzant:
Iyanla Vanzant, accomplished author, inspirational speaker, talk show host and living testament to the value in life’s valleys and the power of acting on faith, goes behind closed doors and deep inside people’s lives for emotional, riveting conversations in the new hit series- Iyanla: Fix My Life
Iyanla has had a unique life filled with many personal struggles, which she has overcome and used to become stronger. Now, she’s back, helping people fix their lives, using her past to help others’ futures. Secrets will be revealed, truths will be uncovered and emotions will come out as Iyanla teaches us how to pull back the curtain on what is broken in our lives.
Iyanla: Fix My Life is produced by Harpo Studios. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FixMyLife
Read more: http://IyanlaFixMyLife.com/