Some time ago I watched a film entitled “Pelican Dreams.” This film is about “Morro” the pelican who is now unable to fly, and who lives with a couple who feed him and care for him. Although he has everything that he needs it is made clear by how he watches other pelicans flying around that he does not have everything that he wants. At some point in the film the voiceover says, “So Morro lived his life tolerating what comes and what goes, not totally captive, but not really free either. Like a lot of us.”
It can take time to grow into one’s freedom. When I was very young, before my other siblings had appeared upon the scene, every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter found my parents and I making the 2-hour drive into Brooklyn to Mom’s ancestral homes; “homes” because her two Aunts had a home right next door to her parents’ home, and as a result Mom lived in both houses. At the conclusion of each festal meal the various pies came out, and there was always a big bowl of sour cream. I don’t know if this is a French-Canadian thing, or what. I vividly remember once taking a BIG piece of Aunt Marina’s raisin pie and as I was turning to take it back to my place at the table Aunt Alice said, “Put some sour cream on it, it’s delicious.” No one really understands their inner workings at the age of 6, but I distinctly remember a sudden feeling of contrariness as I replied, “No, I don’t like sour cream.” Aunt Alice replied, “When you get older you will.” Determined to win this round I said, “No! I’m never going to like sour cream!” I am happy to report that now, at 67, I adore sour cream!
Jack, on the other hand, at 45 continues to define himself by all that he rejects, “I hate sour cream!” “I don’t agree with you!” “No!!!” One of his friends had once opined, “Jack is an iceberg waiting for the Titanic.” What others don’t know is that Jack feels trapped by the negative reputation that he has created for himself! As he has aged he has secretly sampled some of the foods that he so energetically decried when younger, and to his surprise has found that he now does like some of them! This state of affairs mystifies him! How did that happen? When did that happen? WHY did that happen? His dilemma now is that the thought of admitting his change to others is as distasteful to him as those foods were in the past. How can he possibly admit he has changed?
One evening five of us, Jack included, went to a really fancy restaurant to celebrate Marci’s promotion. Looking at his menu Jack saw that they offered an appetizer of ceviche, a dish over which Jack had made many a public derogatory facial expression when ordered by others. The server asked Jack, “And you, Sir. What would you like for your appetizer?” The problem that evening was that Jack had secretly grown to love ceviche. But the Public Jack hates ceviche! “Sir?” the server asked. What to do? Sitting up ramrod straight, taking a big gulp, Jack replied, “I’ll have the ceviche.” The air around the table seemed to suddenly be sucked out of those sitting there, all of whom looked as if a murder had just occurred in front of them! After 10 seconds of stunned silence Marci asked, “Who are you? What have you done with our Jack?”