Mastering the Can Opener

It’s a simple thing.  The hand crank can opener.  A kitchen appliance that’s been around forever. It’s simple, it’s cheap and it’s easy to use. Right?  Wrong.  I have never been able to use one.  It gets stuck, falls off the can or just will not cut.  Stupid things!  But recently our electric one died and I opted to purchase a hand one for a couple of reasons.  One, it takes up less room and I’m on a mission to remove the clutter from my life (and more precisely, from my kitchen counter); two, it reduces our “carbon footprint”.  I’m a hippie remember.

Well, it still didn’t work.  Mind you, my husband and both my teenage kids have no issue using it, so thankfully the inability was not passed down to my children.  But I kept trying.  Not like I really had an option, after all.  Either use it, or skip adding the tomatoes and beans to the chili, making myself a tuna melt or some other treat packed away in the fortress of a can. It always ended the same way; a family member coming to my frustrated pleas of help when cans were mangled and I was ready to chuck the opener across the room. They would stroll in, open the can and stroll out giving me a look of mingled pity and annoyance.

The other day I finally figured it out. It wasn’t an epiphany at the time, but it certainly made me happy!  After opening several cans effortlessly, proving to myself that, yes, I indeed had mastered this feat, I called my family in to prove it!  After all, they stuck by me all those years when I couldn’t do it.  “Watch!!!” I was so proud of this new found talent! They smiled, patted me on the back and said encouraging things like, “Wow.” and “Finally!”

Sure, I suppose practice was at the root of why I can finally, at the age of 46, open a can with a hand opener.  But I think it’s a lot more than that (of course I do…it’s how I operate).  I finally understood the key to making it work.  I stopped trying to force it.  All these years I’ve been holding on for dear life and trying to force the cutter around the can as if it didn’t know how to perform without my guidance.  Once I let it guide me, it worked perfectly.  Hmmm.  Now, if that isn’t a metaphor,  I don’t know what is!

This is truly where I am in my life right how.  I’m having a zen moment with my can opener and letting it teach me another lesson in my relationships.  I’m tired of trying to force them to work.  It’s frustrating and unfulfilling.  While I know I need to participate and be part of the function to make it truly work, I can’t do it all myself.  The opener knows its role and does it well.  The can knows its role and also complies.  I was the only one that never understood that it’s a joint effort; only when you stop trying to control the situation, everything works as it should.

Yup, all that from successfully opening a can!

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