For as long as I can remember, the center of my family’s dinner table always had at least two candles. As a boy, I eagerly awaited my chance to take the match and strike, amazed at the flame that came seemingly out of thin air.
When I was young, those candlesticks didn’t need to be replaced often. Now, a bit older, I find myself swapping them frequently—the old, exhausted wick replaced with a youthful, younger one.
You see, at age five, I would shovel down my dinner–chicken, rice, broccoli (except back then broccoli was trees: “you need to eat your trees” my mom would say, and I always obliged), because at that age, youth would pull me from the table so I could run outside with my brothers and sister. The same would be true at age ten: gulp it down, asked to be excused, then perhaps bike the rest of evening away, going around and around our garage on my orange mountain bike—my first that had gears! As a teenager, there was homework, practice, college applications, even the occasional date that all made my stay at the dinner table brief—life moving at max speed, with me just along for the ride.
Life still moves at 100 mph, but now, a little bit older and hopefully a bit wiser, dinner is a longer affair. A few things are different at these dinner tables when my family gets the chance to come together: broccoli is now called broccoli, my mother does not have to ask me to finish my vegetables, and candlesticks are now glassybaby.
And it’s wonderful to have the transparent, the translucent, the opaque, and the two-step glassybaby all on the table. Sometimes I imagine those descriptions also applying to us: transparent when we are clear, open, and easily understood; translucent when we are a bit more mysterious; opaque when we are guarded, not willing to show our true selves; and two-step when there is something fantastical happening deep within our minds. With the company of those whom I love most by my side, I am my most transparent self—there is nothing for me to hide.
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