Angela Huston

A rubber band is such a simple thing it is often hard to think of it as having so many uses. But, for whatever purposes we use it, it has a wonderfully singular redeeming quality that stands out above everything else: even though it is constantly being stretched, it maintains its shape and encompassing strength and can be pressed into worthwhile service for a long time.

Life's experiences are a lot like rubber bands. Perhaps without even realizing it, we constantly stretch our abilities in many different directions, hoping to expand them. Occasionally, we stretch to excess, but for the most part we can control the flexibility with only minor changes to the original form.

Stretching signifies an expansion of thoughts, an indication of willingness to broaden our horizons, but without losing the basic foundation upon which any new learning is built. Often, my fear of going into an unfamiliar situation is calmed when I remind myself I can stretch considerably without completely departing from the safety of known parameters.

In restrospect, after weighing the merits of each experience, I usually recognize the value and irrefutable importance of retaining most basic premises as I attempt to incorporate new discoveries. Two simple home remedies for common ailments might explain how my rubber band thinking works.

The first, gargling with warm salt water, was once a sure cure for a scratchy throat, perhaps followed by hot tea liberally laced with soothing honey. Time and medical research gradually expanded, remedies became more sophisticated, and amazing new pleasant tasting potions and elixirs guaranteed to perform those healing functions quickly became popular.

Second, we once professed the exclusive, indisputable power of chicken soup. Again, as our knowledge expanded, we relegated the soup to a secondary positon as well, and instead enhanced our health by replacing it with the latest finds from the labs of advanced medical researchers (even though we cannot always pronounce their 12-syllable scientific names that sound like combinations of three different languages).

We have learned to accept most advances as being beneficial, but my mental rubber band allows me to keep, use, and trust both the old familiars along with the more new advanced medicines; it is possible to balance the two and gain an appreciation for both.

Although we often defer to more scientific choices, tea and soup still offer us their warmth and goodness. These two stand-bys provide a relieving comfort not found at the pharmacy.

We cannot ignore changes, but we have to focus on believing that we have enough flexibility to find a comfort level of expansion as we experience each new one. If we stretch, expand, and explore just enough to capture qualities that enhance our basic foundations and tenets without actually extending to the point of breaking the tie to those foundations, we will surely find a comfortable combination of old and new that will serve as a positive lesson plan for life.

There is no time like the present, when inevitable changes that might be beyond our ability to control, are coming from countless directions, mostly because of the current pandemic. If we calmly try to prepare ourselves to explore wisely, stretch our mindsets sensibly, and combine the old with the new, we should be able to face head on those approaching changes.

For the record, I am slower than many to accept change, but when I rethink that statement realistically.... hmm, appliances that have eliminated beating laundry on a rock; transportation that does not require sitting on a buckboard; plentiful, indoor access to heat and hot water, no hauling or boiling required; attractive clothing for which we do not have to weave our own fabric; availability of foods beyond the wildest imagination; instant communication in many mysterious forms ... extreme examples, perhaps, but you get the point.

Trust the flexibility of your own mental rubber band. It gauges our actions far more accurately than you might suspect. We might even learn to feel more secure, and experience considerably less floundering and fear as we accept that changes must, and surely will, come. They always have.