I walked away from the conversation with face still flushed, pulse still elevated, thoughts still racing.
Don’t get me wrong – it was a necessary conversation. One which I would have regretted not having, despite the intensity and confrontational nature of the thing. One which was brought on by something so deeply seated that I didn’t realize how strongly I felt until the words started flowing.
You recognize the feeling. You’ve had this conversation, too.
In the car, on the way home, I sorted through my thoughts about the matter…
- What had been accomplished?
- What had been resolved?
- What had been aired and not settled, and can I be okay with that?
- How had things been left, as we parted?
- Is the relationship intact even if the differences remain?
- Are there any leftovers?
You know, LEFTOVERS… Unsettled feelings. Unresolved issues that will resurface again. And again. Pin-pricks from words that were meant to be hurtful. Emotions still swirling, and the uncertainty as to where they will finally land.
Like those leftovers you keep in your refrigerator; the remnant of a meal, perhaps a meal shared. Or a meal enjoyed. Or a functional meal – one that met your caloric needs without any extras or frills.
You see, the thing about leftovers is that they do serve a purpose, but it’s a limited purpose. A purpose with an expiration date. A purpose with a deadline. Leftovers are destined to be disposed of.
If the ‘meal’ is the conversation I had today, it was something I needed to eat. I will absorb that which my body needs to maintain health, to give me strength and to increase my energy to cover the output I will inevitably be required to produce. This ‘meal’ served its purpose, whether it was fun to eat or not. Maybe the company at the table wasn’t choice. Maybe the food didn’t taste quite like it should have. Maybe it wasn’t the most delicious feast I’ve ever consumed.
In the car, driving home, the meal is over. It’s time to decide what to do with the leftovers.
I might throw it all in the trash now – I’m not very good at using leftovers wisely (or it just wasn’t that good the first time).
I might save it all for later – it was more than I could digest in one sitting.
I might save just the parts I want more time with – the stuff worth chewing on again.
I might put it in the frig, which means I’ll have to reheat and revisit it sooner than if I place it in the freezer to preserve it longer; to extend its impact on me.
Regardless of the choice, the fact remains that leftovers go bad. Keeping them around too long results in things like ugly, smelly (greenish) growths or less than appetizing separation of ingredients. Consuming leftovers that have been left over too long can make you sick. Really sick. Even if they appear to be okay, your leftovers can make you miserable inside.
Holding onto leftovers which have passed their safe usage date is never a good thing. Even if you have no plans to reuse or rehash them, leaving them in the frig takes up space you could be using for the good stuff and might even taint the rest of what you plan to use for another meal, another day.
Why take the risk? Use your leftovers while they still have value and can still be put to good use! And remember – every leftover has a shelf-life. Some shorter, some longer than others, but no leftover is good for you forever. Pay attention to what you’re allowing to take up space in your frig. In your freezer. In your head. In your heart.
Eventually, all of our leftovers stink.
By the time I reached the driveway and found the key to my front door, I had settled on a few leftovers worth keeping. For awhile.
But I don’t intend to hold onto them too long. I don’t intend to wait until the leftover goes bad, gets rancid, grows fuzzy green hair and is transformed into something I don’t recognize. I will reheat them, chew on them, use them up and then dispose of my leftovers when their contribution to my life has been exhausted.
Trash the stuff that will only serve to make us sick and stain our Tupperware.
We’ll be healthier for it, my friends.