Say the word “Spoons” at a dinner party and you are sure to get varied responses based on folks’ experiences or mood. The married couple and the person living with a chronic illness will definitely have very different interpretations of just what a spoon means to them. And as of yesterday, “spoons” means something a bit different to me as well.
In case you’ve not ever played the card game “Spoons”, let me explain the gist of the game. Actually, its such a simple game the gist is the game. Collect a group of people. Six makes a good starting point, but a few less or a few more is fine as well. Next, collect one fewer spoons. (Ex. 6 players = 5 spoons) Shuffle a full deck of cards and deal four cards to each player. The dealer puts the remainder of deck in front of him/her. Dealer then draws a card and either keeps it or discards it to the person sitting to the dealer’s right. That player picks up the card and either adds it to his/her hand and discards another, or discards it to player to his/her right. And so on until a discard player grows in front of the dealer which will then become the deck. You may only have 4 cards in your hand at all times.
Each player is trying to get four of a kind. The first person to get four like cards in his/her hand takes a spoon from the center of the table.
And therein lies the fun. The game goes quickly and if players are crafty, they collect a spoon without the other players noticing. However, the person who isn’t quick enough to grab a spoon is awarded a letter in SPOON. The first player to spell “spoon” loses.
I didn’t win my first game of Spoons. But I didn’t lose either. Instead, it was a great time spent mostly laughing with 5 of my favorite teens. It was, to be sure, a good way to expand my thinking of spoons.
My understanding of the game of Spoons, those married folks thinking of spoon-cuddles and the chronically ill peoples’ thinking of spoons? They all compliment one another really.
In all relationships we eventually find that the contact that most sustains us is that where we are fully connected with others. Not by our demands or constraints, we are fully connected because we are fully present. Babies and puppies love to cuddle and for good reason. It does more than warm our physical beings. It warms our spiritual being too. It connects us with others and reconnects us to our very selves. The spoon that is a cuddle is as old as life itself and it is a powerful thing.
The spoon theory is also very powerful. When Christine Miserandino first created the Spoon Theory, she stumbled upon a tactile and powerful way of conveying how it is to live with a chronic illness, in her case Lupus. Each of us uses our proverbial spoons to get through the day; most of us don’t notice though because we have more in the drawer or the dishwasher. We may even have a box of plasticware we can delve into in a pinch. But when you are chronically ill, you see how many spoons you have because everything you do exhausts yet another one. And the drawer is empty.
Our lives go fast. They are filled with companionship and laughter. But they are also filled with times of disappointment and regret, of feeling left out or bereft. Every day dawns with spoons on our table. Will we be left holding one at the end of the day?
ps. I thank my Twitter friend, Adam Israel, for teaching me about The Spoon Theory. I thank my sweet children and husband for teaching me the healing power of spoon-cuddles. My drawer is full of spoons. Let me know if I can share.