We all know about the high school tradition of “canning”, when the smaller or nerdier kids are put into a trash can. What I find interesting about this is that those mistreated students are often the ones who end up becoming successful and sometimes more impressive than their high school aggressors. The potential of the small kids haven’t yet been reached, and if their potential was known, I doubt they would end up being canned.

Recently my mom has wanted to teach me what seems to be a passionate hobby of hers: canning. This involves a fairly big ordeal of fruits and vegetables, and a lot of time. There are times when the fruit isn’t quite ripe or a little over-ripe, but they are often still included in the processes, if they aren’t too far gone. The result is a row of jars that are put on a shelf to save for another time.

The same word has two very different meanings and we may sometimes be confused about which meaning should be applied in our lives. There are habits, goals, ideas, possessions, etc. that we should maybe consider “canning” in the black, yucky can. Others that should be saved in the clear, sealed can. In both cases the potential of the item, be it a possession, idea, or habit, may not be reached, or it may be overreached. But we need to make a decision about what really needs to happen to it.

I find that I have to make this evaluation frequently with goals, plans, and ideas for stories that I have. Periodically I wake up remembering some epic dream that I had and I’m sure that it’ll make an equally impressive story to write. Then I finish waking up and realize that the dream was very dream like with random things thrown together in a way that doesn’t make any sense at all. So that idea is one that I can safely can in the high school sense, after I’ve had a good laugh about it. The same goes with plans that I have, when I realize that I wasn’t being very realistic in my ability to handle a large work load. But there are other times when I’ve got something that I know is good, and it’s still good when I’m awake and thinking realistically. That’s when I get to think about my mom’s hobby version of canning.

There are two concepts that I really like about canning food. This year my mom had me can applesauce and pears and the two are fairly different. When canning pears you prep the fruit by washing, peeling, and cutting out any parts you don’t want to be eating. Then you stick them in the bottles with sugared water and put them in the steamer to seal. (This are simplified instructions, please don’t depend on these to can your fruit.) Applesauce, however, includes prepping the apples in a similar way, but then cooking them, mashing them through a sauce grinder thing, and cooking it again before going into the bottles and then the steamer.

Sometimes we have plans or ideas that are ready to just be saved like pears. These things in our life maybe need to just be put to the side in a safe place until we are ready for them. I have goals and plans like this. I am currently working on my bachelors degree full time and there are things that I’ve realized I need to put to the side until I finish. Some of that may be some story ideas I have, cause I can only work on one at a time right now. I also need to hold off on trying to complete my collection of disney movies so that I have the money to finish paying my tuition. These aren’t things I need to worry about right now, but they’re still good. So I just need to tuck them away in a safe place till I’m ready for them.

Other things in our lives are like applesauce, it’s time to take care of them. This year we got a lot of summer apples that were very ripe, so we had to get going on them before they went bad. Once you start the process it’s best to finish it right then. There are so many dishes involved in making applesauce that you want to do to it all in one day if possible, just so that you don’t have to wash everything five times.

We have things that are ready to be processed, and you don’t want to just go part way in it. An example of this would be school and homework. I’ve discovered that it’s a lot easier to do the reading and assignments on time than it is to catch up, and I certainly don’t want to have to retake a class. But another example that took me a while to realize is my career goals. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl, and I’ve been writing, but I’ve always thought that I would finish and publish when I became an adult, like there was some magic dust that would fall and all the stories would be finished and polished, ready to go. But I have to do the processing now. I need to get those stories cooked, ground, and recooked so that when I’m ready to publish, they’re all ready in the sealed bottle and waiting. This means I need to make the time on the daily basis to work with these stories. Cause I’m planning on having some yummy applesauce in the near future. How about you?


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