"We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence."
I was recently walking down the kitchen aisle at my local big box store to purchase new dining plates, our old set had seen better days, and I was overwhelmed by the variety of options. I figured the trip would be quick, in and out, wham bam thank you, ma'am!
I was wrong. I was instantly overwhelmed by the variety. The different materials used, color schemes, and even the shape of the plates were not standard options and varied drastically between all the products competing for my attention.
It wasn't until after my shopping that I began to make the connection between people and plates. Stay with me here. Just like the plates on the shelving in front of me, relationships are everywhere, and they come in all shapes and sizes. That's when I realized that using the metaphor of plates, and their various forms, helped me to better understand my daily relationships. The three types of plates I interact with daily are Fine China, Standard Dinner plates, and Disposable plates.
Fine China are those plates we cherish and display in a safe space. My grandmother had an entire hutch display in her dining room, proudly displaying her collection. Each item is irreplaceable if broken. No one can open the cabinet without permission; those items are precious. These items are costly.
This picture helps showcase the precious value of such an item. This bowl has been broken and found no longer useful for its purpose, to hold food. Within our society, it is tempting to throw away these broken items and purchase new ones. Remember the beginning of this blog? That's exactly what I did. However, this bowl has been made whole by a process called Kintsugi, roughly translated as "Golden Joinery or Golden Repair." This is an ancient Japanese art of repairing broken items by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.
This item can be purchased from an Etsy account named "KintsugiDecor" for $168.00 per bowl! While a standard bowl fresh off the shelves would cost anywhere from $3 - $10. This highlights the value we place on those relationships that we pour our time, energy, and resources into this truly one-of-a-kind product.
There are more modest designs on the spectrum of dinnerware for example, the Standard Dinner plate set. These sets are purchased in bulk from grocery, home decor stores, and even bulk stores like Sams and COSTCO.
Unlike Fine China, multiple individuals can have identical patterns within their collections. Often these sets are not hand painted, instead, they are mass-produced in a factory to the tune of thousands a day. These sets have lower entry costs, with the average 6-8 person set being sold for a modest $30 - $120. If you are like me, you even wait for your set to go on sale and happily buy "last year's model" for a fraction of the cost.
These plates are used daily and are sturdy and reliable, withstanding intense heat from the microwave without fear of breaking. If one item fractures,
chips, or fades, the item is still used for years until the set is replaced or upgraded. It is commonplace to open a cabinet door to see a set that is composited of multiple patterns with various stages of wear and tear. All are still valued, and all are still being used daily.
Opposite from the other two forms of plates, or relationships, disposable plates are purchased in bulk for pennies a plate. These plates are designed to be used once. These vessels are only capable of carrying a fraction of the weight of their counterparts. These plates don’t stand up well to wear and tear or higher heat; the cheaper manufacturing is noticeable when pressure is applied. While Disposable plates are plentiful and easily acquired, these plates are not ideal for daily use or special events.
Now, how do we break down this metaphor into something useful? I believe its best explained this way. Paper plates can lure us into a false sense of security due to their ease of acquisition and low buy-in. These relationships don't cost us a large amount of money. If these plates break, the stress is low.
The issue with the relationships within today's society is that the value of Disposable plates is higher than our Fine China. This ranking system is reinforced by social media outlets designed to have you value casual or unknown acquaintances, chasing their “likes and shares,” a feeling that results in your image of self-value. A vicious cycle can lead to ignoring those plates that give us great value and return on investment.
Too often in my life, it has taken a truly regrettable event to occur for me to realize the value of those relationships around me. Too often I thought I had surrounded myself with fine china, to be amazed at the true quality of those relationships.
Take an inventory of your relationships and their status. Fix those relationships that need mending. Improve those that need saving and discard those that have gone soft and flimsy. You deserve to have only the best relationships within your cabinets.
Want to explore this topic in further detail? Join Kieth Heimericks and me while we discuss the importance of relationships and why so many of them fail to reach their full potential.