Ophelia Act IV, Scene 5 Hamlet

We know what we are, but know not what we may be. (Hamlet Act IV, Scene 5)

Especially near the beginning of a new year filled with goals and resolutions that we may or may not be keeping, I think these words are worth remembering. Something I have learned over the course of my life is that tough times have often been the instrument that has shown me what I may be. The strength and skills that sometimes surface in the midst of the hurt and the suffering have very often come as a surprise.

In some ways we are like flour. Without a baker we are white powder on a shelf with a label: “Flour”. Inexperienced and uneducated, we know what we are: a dusty substance that came from wheat. With experience we may discover that some people are allergic to us. In those cases, if we remain inert in our package, we won’t hurt anyone. But if we stay in that package, we won’t help anyone either.  It’s when we are willing to get out, mix with others, be more than a little uncomfortable for a while and risk getting hot and possibly burned  that we realize that flour can also be bread, cookies, cake, gravy, noodles, sauces, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, muffins, pie, crackers, binding as a paste, life-giving as food, entertaining as a crucial element in the *penny flour game, a low cost special effect in home theatrical (and most likely outdoor) productions.

We know what we are, but know not what we may be. It’s a great time to get brave and pursue what we hope we may be, don’t you think?

*penny flour game: Fill a flat-bottomed bowl completely with flour, using a butter knife to remove the excess so that the flour is even with the top of the bowl. Place a plate face down on top of the bowl. Flip the bowl and plate over as one unit and set them on a table. Carefully remove the bowl. You should have a white mound of flour. Gently place a penny on the top. Players take turns cutting flour away from the penny with a butter knife, without shifting the penny in any way. The goal is to remove as much flour as possible, without tipping the penny. When the penny falls, put the flour back in the bowl and set it up again, letting a different player make the first cut.

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