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Tag: relationships

Education By Incineration

A friend recently gifted me an air fryer. Like many people, I had heard the hype surrounding this supposed miracle kitchen appliance. I told my friend I was considering buying one to see what all the fuss was about.

“I have three,” he said. “I’ll give you one of mine.”

After insisting I pay for it and him refusing, we set a time to rendezvous so I could pick it up. I brought it home and perused the user’s manual. It was true that it could cook various foods without excess oil or other fats. The air fryer option also had instructions for cooking all kinds of vegetables. 

I chose tofu with a soy teriyaki glaze and broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and chili flakes for my first official air fryer meal. The tofu cooked perfectly: it was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The broccoli was another matter. Even though I followed the directions to the letter, most of the stuff came out black and charred beyond being edible. A few stalks here and there were okay, but the rest was a burnt-up mess. I have tried to cook vegetables several other times with a similar result. 

The experience brings to mind relationships, or more specifically, relationships that don’t end well. Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic interest, we invest ourselves and our trust in others. As we get to know the person, we learn whether we can count on them when times get tough. We discern how loyal they are and if we share enough common ground to march together through the world. 

When the dynamic works, it’s magical. When it doesn’t, it is education by incineration.

Sometimes the feeling sneaks up on you. You know something has changed, but you can’t quite put your finger on the problem. Then you discover your partner is having an affair or your friend lied about being vaccinated for Covid, intentionally putting your health and life at risk. This person you told your deepest secrets to, who laughed and cried with you, has burned you. 

You pull away as quickly as if you had put your hand on a hot stove. And you have: your former confidante has become a crematorium furnace, fired up to 1,800 degrees and ready to turn you to ash.

But you don’t have to stay near the heat. Instead, you can learn from the flames. Like my poor, scorched broccoli, not all of you is singed. With time and compassion, your burns will heal. You may have scars, and that skin will never look or feel the same, but it is still yours. You have earned it. You escaped that burning building and survived the fire. With the memory of the inferno blazing in your mind, you will move forward.

Education by incineration teaches us tenacity and reminds us that we can be harmed, but we aren’t ruined. Wear your burn like a badge of honor.

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