Have you ever noticed just how much we consider what we like? And don’t like? Really, we talk about it all the time. And if social media proves my assertion, I venture the “like” option on Facebook is the most frequented mouse click on the Internet.
We badger others, too: “I made this soup for the first time. Do you like it?” or “I really like your sweater … I like your hair that way … Do you like my new car? … How do you like that book? … I really do not like to cook.”
I’ve probably opined about this issue before, but the question struck me again recently: Does it really matter if I like or dislike any given person, project or thing? Sometimes, I suppose it does, but most times? Nope.
The fact that I do not like washing dishes changes nothing: Whether or not I like them, the crusty cups, saucers and pancake flippers remain towering on the counter, jeering “You have to wash me.” If a co-worker dislikes me, what does it mean? Nothing usually. Just means I have to work with someone who dislikes me, as unpleasant as he or she, I mean that situation, might be.
Now, I happen to like laundry. Sorting, washing and folding dirty clothes, transforming them from frumpy to fresh, meets some deep-rooted need I have to take care of people.
Others — heaven knows why — like dishes but dislike laundry.
And that’s one point, isn’t it? In this big-old world are some 6 billion people with some 6 billion set of preferences. Imagine what a mess it would be, then, if we each only did what we “liked” to do. Frightening thought.
Yet I see us, society I guess you’d say, moving that way. We seem to be buying into the fallacy that I don’t have to do it if I don’t like it or, conversely, that if I like it, it’s OK to do.
I have young children, and young children are notorious for picky eating. I get that, and I promise I am not the spinach drill sergeant. But you should have seen the stunned expressions — our supper table was oddly momentarily silent, even — when I announced, after a child pointed out she did not like the cuisine, “It is OK to eat food you do not like. You don’t have to like it; you just have to eat it.”
Wha?! Eat food I do not like? Why, yes, dear children, for this
is the nutritious fare provided. Now eat it or get hungry enough that you begin to wonder if you might not, in fact, like it — then eat it.
Before I go all hypocrite, though, I have to admit I have this “like” problem, too. It’s only been in the last few years I have begun to address it in myself.
Children will do that to you. I mean, what mother, really, can say, “I don’t like to change diapers, so I won’t do it?” Many parenting tasks are fairly unseemly. You just do them because you love your children and because they need done. Like them (the tasks, not the children!) or not.
Now, on the flip side: Hitting middle age did make me want to evaluate certain aspects of my life with “like” being a factor. To wit: Why stay in a career if you don’t like it? Or work really hard at relationships if “like” is not, even, mutual? I had to find a fitness regimen I genuinely liked — or else I would not maintain it — and I have some wiggle room to buy soap, socks and even underwear I like.
But whether or not I would click that analogous “like” button for any given task, project or, even, person is no longer a primary factor in my decision-making. In fact, I’m learning to live with the “like” factor a distant fifth or sixth consideration in most things.
And there freedom reigns — where you’re not ruled by your likes and dislikes. Imagine not being moved by such whimsical emotions. You’re steady, solid, trustworthy. You get things done.
I appreciate and aspire to that certain “grit” in people who don’t consider their likes and dislikes. What U.S. Marine, for example, would consider if he “likes” training for the job? Ha. He just does it.
It’s OK to eat things and do things you don’t like. It’s OK.
But often a funny thing happens, too: Once you do things just because you should or because they’re right or because they need done or meet someone’s needs and not because you like them, you do, many times, start to “like” them — or at least like the resulting satisfaction.
Wait. That’s not true for me and a sink full of cruddy dishes. But I still have to wash them up — like it or not.
Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at email@example.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”