In the early days of toothpaste, tubes were made of metal (circa 1890s) then later a combination of metal and plastic (~1940s). Back then if you squeezed a tube from the bottom it would stay rolled up. Indeed a tube that was squished too many times in too many directions would crack and ooze toothpaste from all the wrong places. A couple or family using the same toothpaste ran into problems if people had different ideas about how they liked their toothpaste tube. If you were a roller … you developed a disdain for people who squeezed the tube at the top. Some of us have even carried this control battle beyond the metal tube dilemma — since virtually all toothpaste tubes are now made of plastic and it’s impossible to roll them from the bottom — and still continue to define a proper way to extract toothpaste.
Sometimes it’s okay to let go of our old ideas or notions as we learn how to be fluid and flexible in our relationships. Not only do we not need to agree how the toothpaste tube should be squeezed, we can each have our own preferred toothpaste. Seriously. It doesn’t expire. We can probably find room for it in a drawer in the WC. There are simply things we don’t need to agree upon just because we are family.
The redneck and I share a bed, but we don’t share covers. I have my own sheet and or blanket and he has his own sheet or not if it’s a hot night. There’s never a midnight struggle for who is hogging the comforter.
Allowing people to be different, realizing that you can respect their differences even when you don’t agree with their toothpaste philosophy, makes our own lives easier as we move through the world — or the memes on social media.
But sometimes toothpaste feels important. And we get an overwhelming feeling to be right about something. So much so, that we can’t even see another point of view. We hold on so tight (to the bottom of the tube) that we lose sight of the purpose behind brushing. We forget about the clean feeling in our mouth after we brush and instead keep tasting the bitter grapes on our tongue.
We begin to see the world as a clear cut, us against them. Because if you are pro-something … then by bifurcation you must be against something else. Everything else. Because there’s no more room for compromise, for conversation, for considering that maybe another option or many options exist. And now the kitchen sink comes in and everything you ever hated for reasons your parents told you were important gets solidified as you maintain your unexamined beliefs.
I can’t hear about your toothpaste problems because I’m afraid you are going to make me wrong. And I don’t want to be wrong. I don’t want to change.
You know .. it took the metal shortages of World War II, to change the way toothpaste tubes were made. Even though for a long while we suspected the lead in the tube might be a cause for concern. But sometimes we don’t make a change unless we are simply out of options. Until the metal is in short supply. Until we finally have to look at the way we are doing something and consider … maybe there is another way.
From sharing a bathroom or a bus we all have to live together. Allowing for our differences and making changes without our ego getting in the way with its fear of being wrong, is how we move forward. Change will happen. How we approach it will determine how often we smile with our fresh brushed teeth.