My Appetite, Tuna, My Toe, and What it Taught Me About Life

My Appetite, Tuna, My Toe, and What it Taught Me About Life 

By Dhuha Baig 

Food is important to me. Every crunch, sizzle, and swallow paired with the heat of carnivorous hunger create moments of honest pleasure, which is why when I dropped a tin tuna can on my toe, I felt as if my life was over. There is no greater disappointment than disappointment brought upon by oneself, and on that cold, disheartening Saturday night, my motor neurons failed me. The simple effort to end my body’s raging hunger ended with my poor soul on the floor; my hands desperately tried to rub away the throbbing pain as tears stung my eyes. I know, it was just a tuna can! This was absurd, not an issue, people go through worse! 

IMG_0322.JPG

However, if there is one single thing I remember from my kindergarten class, besides Red Fish, Blue Fish and learning the effects of public embarrassment over my inability to tie my shoe, it was my teacher, Ms. Angela Salva, crouching down next to me with her hand on my shoulder. In between ferocious sniffles and tear-stained blurry vision, she explained that I must never belittle my six-year-old self and went on to explain that my problems matter. Although life has gotten a little more complicated than ball hogging and scraped knees, the basics are still the same. 

Dropping a tuna can on my toe was a mistake, but one that taught me something profound.  That night, I was attempting to whip up some haphazard dinner; my mother and father were both out of town and in spite of my mother leaving a rather large pot of lentils in the refrigerator, my sights were set somewhere else: tuna. I threw caution to the wind and raced to the pantry, snatching the Costco brand of Chicken of the Sea only to have nine cans slip through my fingers. My feet danced across the wooden floor, saving themselves from all but one. My third toe from the right took nine months to heal.  Every day I would wake and glance at my feet absentmindedly, only to be met with a gruesome purple and black mark. I failed myself, my family, and most of all, my appetite.  

Failure is something which no one can escape. In a time where perfection is idolized, competitiveness breeds an environment where imperfections are something to be embarrassed about. We have become the society of shame: we are either the shaming, ashamed, or the shameless.  However, failure, of all things, should never be something to hide. It is because of failure we are able to recognize success; if we all succeeded the first time, our achievements would come at the expense of our humanity.  

Life will take our breath away, either by the awes of a beautiful sunrise, or by a punch in the gut. Sometimes, life may go so far as to drop a tuna can on your toe. Inevitably, failure is bound to bring out the worst in us.  It swipes us by the knees at the times we least expect it, usually when we are the most vulnerable. It takes what is most dear to us: our ego, self-assurance, our confidence. The tuna incident came at a high time of my life, where invincibility was at my fingertips, and I was reminded of humility. I can thank a purple toe for teaching me that failures, (although incredibly painful) come with blessings, and I can thank a tuna can for teaching me how to dance. 

Pray, Say & Slay Team