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The Vegetable Basket

The diversity of human beings and the importance of self-knowing

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For years, I was told by others, I was more than some people could handle. That sounds quite nice when you put it like that does not it, a sort of backhanded compliment? As if my ‘fiery passion’, ‘incredible intellect’, and ‘thrilling exuberance’ was a force to be reckoned with – strong, resilient, and unwavering.

Yeah, eh no….! That is not how it was meant. Have you ever been told “You are too much”. Maybe you heard, “be quiet”, “people don’t want to listen to you”. “Shut your arse and give your mouth a chance” was one I distinctly remember hearing, growing up. As amusing as they may have felt they were being, when vocalising their perception that I was talking bullshit, as a deliberate put down the words are not amusing. They are mean-spirited. Those words from adults to children or even from adults to other adults are destructive and abusive. The messaging they carry is, let’s face it, pretty grim. Messaging is so important in children’s formative years. What we hear and how it is said, shapes us. It forms the basis of our feelings about ourselves, the world we live in and our place within it.

With many years of introspection, reflection and work, bloody hard work, I have managed to undo and reframe some of that messaging. Nowadays, I am okay with the idea that if I am ‘too much’ for you, then I am just not your sort of person. Perhaps you are not mine either. If I am not too much for you, then you understand me and that is great. I can absolutely live with that.

In life we have turnips and onions. There are of course, lots of other vegetables on the horticultural landscape, but I am using these two to give you context and contrast.

Turnips have a tough outer skin. It keeps the vegetable in one piece and protects the inner flesh. It can withstand a lot and once intact is fiercely robust. However, when you peel that skin, even a little bit, the vulnerability of the turnip is evident. It is not going to survive too well without its skin intact and will need support and back up if it is to keep from rotting. If we do want to use the flesh, we will usually add a little something else to improve the flavour, a few mashed carrots, some butter, salt and pepper, maybe even some spice to give it a bit of life. On its own, the turnip does not amount to much, for all its largesse.

Then we have the onion. Easily crushed it is made up of layers, which individually are quite thin and fragile. It is squishy if pushed, flexible. The outer layer is papery and peels away easily, showing the veg for all that it is. The difference with the onion when compared to the turnip, is that it can hold its ground; layer by layer or whole. Each layer is as strong in flavour as the next. It has substance right to its core. It does not need enhancement and the flavour is even better if there’s heat added. With a wide variety of types, there is an appreciation for the diversity of the onion. Overall, an onion is strong.

Not everyone likes onions. Come to think of it, not everyone likes turnips either but you would be more inclined to add an onion to each dinner, than a turnip, wouldn’t you? It is okay that not everyone likes onions. It is okay that for some the flavour is ‘too much’. I am an onion and proud to be one! I am fine with sitting out on the shelf while others are in the vegetable drawer. I am still here afterall. I am still strong.

Sinead C Kavanagh © 15th June 2020

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