I hope the title of this blog got your attention. This post is about toothpaste, sort of. Toothpaste is a very helpful part of the beneficial practice of tooth care. It’s loaded with good, tasty things that serve our health on a daily basis. The thick, mildly abrasive paste is most often in a tube with a cap. These are now usually plastic, making you have to squeeze and push the contents to the end to get them out. For much of my life, however, the tubes were made of tin or lead, and rolled up much like tubes of oil paint that artists use. As you rolled up the tube, it stayed in its new shape, keeping the contents of the tube pressed up against the capped end. You easily knew when the tube was empty, because the entire tube was rolled and smashed up against the cap. You could quickly see if nothing but a small coating was left that you couldn’t get out. There’s a saying that says, “You can’t stuff toothpaste back in a tube.” I’m not so sure.
Today I realized that my life had been similar to that mostly empty, smashed, and rolled up tube. My former job, by relationships with my family and friends, my image of myself could easily be related to that scenario. Or at least that’s how it seemed. I had allowed situations to deplete me, empty me, roll me up, and smash me against my end. I’m not sure anyone intended to do this to me. I’m sure I had allowed much of it to happen. But I certainly felt depleted. The things the people around me used to replenish themselves weren’t working on me. It seemed that everyone around me looked at my mangled tube and wondered how I could be empty. How could I let this happen?
So, things need to change. I quit my job. I became self-employed. I’m still in a period of adjustment where I can heal and learn how to replenish. I’m learning how to stuff the toothpaste back in. Perhaps I need to replace the tube with a plastic tube that doesn’t get crushed. Perhaps I don’t need a tube. Maybe another container will serve me better. Maybe I can flourish as a mound of paste sitting out in the open. Perhaps the truth is that I need to see myself as something other than toothpaste. So, what would I do with a lump of it squeezed out onto the floor? Anyone want to brush their teeth? It’s an important part of a daily health routine.