Way back in my grade school years, my family took a glorious trip to Fort Worth. It was something school-related, involving my brother Carl’s extracurricular activities. But it was a glorious trip for me because I was allowed to miss school.
Adding to the excitement was our good fortune to stay with friends of my parents who lived in Fort Worth. Their youngest daughter was one year older and I thought of her as more of a cousin. We had great times together.
On this particular trip, I remember sitting in the middle of their living room floor playing some board game. My friend’s mom was baking cookies. Normally, smelling those cookies would be true bliss for me. Unfortunately, I developed a tremendous, sickening headache. And the smell of those cookies became forever attached to memories of the pain I was feeling.
Now, I’m not sure what kind of cookies were being baked. For whatever reason, I have associated macadamia nut cookies with that ugly experience. So through the years, I have avoided macadamia nut cookies. A few years ago, in a moment of adult rationality and at the urging of others who claimed that the macadamia nut cookie was at the height of pastry evolution, I tried one. The morsel was barely in my mouth before the nightmare of memories returned. I was back in that living room, smelling those cookies . . . head throbbing, nauseated, miserable.
Earlier this year, in an effort to be healthy, I purchased a can of mixed nuts “specifically formulated” to provide high protein and great satisfaction. I grabbed the can off the shelf, seeing the almonds and the cashews. After I got to my office, however, I noticed that the third entree was the much-touted macadamia.
I avoided those little round pieces for quite a while. Inevitably, I grabbed one by mistake. It wasn’t heaven on earth, but it was pretty close to paradise. For the first time, I understood what all the macadamiaphiles had been preaching. What a glorious taste sensation! And to think that all of these years I was robbed of that because of some relatively insignificant baked dough surrounding this little jewel.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are like macadamia nut cookies. I see the lumpy stuff that surrounds them and that often hides what is inside. And I avoid those people. Sadly, sometimes I even vilify them.
Yet, in a special moment, I’m given the opportunity to see them “outside the cookie.” And I discover the true value of them as people.
If you struggle from time to time with your feeling toward others like I do, you might want to think about brushing past the cookie to get to what’s truly inside.