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Jars & Lids

I went hiking yesterday to the hot springs with my kids and my girlfriend and her daughter. It was overcast and kinda cold. The hot springs were a perfect choice...well, except for the fact that everyone else had the same idea. Regardless of the natural overcrowding, we had fun and it was good to sit and talk and soak awhile.


One of the things I love about hiking is the conversation that flows back and forth. Just easy, simple, good old fashioned conversation without agenda or direction. Everyone throwing in whatever they will, and with teens, there is no telling where the conversation will go. Well, that isn’t true...it will go to sex or Tik Tok...well, at least with my kids. Total preoccupation with those two.


It was a good day, full of laughter and fun. Good conversation surrounded by the beauty that surrounds us all the time in this beautiful place we live.


On the way home after dinner and a Trader Joes run, we were all talking about relationships, connection and the meaning of both. My friend said...”This guy I used to date in Boston always said, there is a lid for every jar.” For some reason, it struck us all funny. First of all that she dated someone who said that who was not 90. Then the whole concept of lids and jars. Me, being me, couldn’t leave it alone...so I started asking the group questions...


Who are lids and who are jars?


We decided that it can be either gender really but women are much more likely to be jars and men more likely to be lids.


We also discussed the relative merits of each:


Women as jars...


We do contain a lot. We take on a great deal in life and tend to encapsulate it and hold it safe. We also tend to overflow and extreme temperatures or pressure can make us crack. We more concerned with keeping it all together, united than how it all looks inside. Some jars are well organized and orderly, other jars a mishmash of items, thrown together with all the haphazardness of life.


Men as lids...


Lids contain. Lids retain. Lids seal the deal and lock things down. Lids prevent spillage and are concerned with keeping it all together once it has been gathered and assembled. Lids withstand a great deal of pressure and build up. Lids have little say so as to what is actually being contained on the inside.


We agreed that men could be jars and women lids. But, except for my daughter who proclaimed herself a lid, the rest of us fell into the more general gender categories of jar and lid life.


It is a strange metaphor to begin with as people really are not much like either. We are, on the whole, much more complicated and exquisite than this metaphor allows. But we all liked the idea that there is some parity in the universe, that for everyone there is a fit. A connection. Another human being that settles into us just so.


Upon further discussion (this one lasted almost an hour) we all agreed that the gender thing didn’t really work for jars and lids. That perhaps it was just some people are jars and others lids. And that it was indeed hard for uniting. All of us, most especially my friend and I, could see the disconnection of two lids joining or two jars. That the purpose of each was not advanced by the union. But get a good jar, with a perfect fitting lid, and now you really had something.


What I took away from this mostly inane conversation was that all of us regardless of age or gender want to feel that thing that happens when you are present and connected to another. When their personality and yours blend into something greater because of the connection.


I thought about us all...


My friend and I, having lots of opportunities for jar and lid synergy, but ending up alone nevertheless.


Our children, just beginning the quest for like and love and intimacy. Both my friend and I hoping to spare them some of that drama for a few more years...but we know it is here regardless of our wishes to the contrary.


Perhaps jars and lids is a horrible metaphor for love and relating. Perhaps the containment of each item makes me feel just a wee bit unsettled...not wanting to be responsible for holding it all together or keeping it all under control. Jars are very good for holding things, but I often find myself exhausted by the act. Because unlike a jar, I have no hard exterior to lean against. My walls and definition much more permeable and soft. To be a lid would be equally exhausting I would think, constantly having to size up what is inside and decide when it was enough, when it was too much. When to lock it down, to prevent spillage. Seems like a lot of work also.


As we rounded the last bend towards home, we all decided that perhaps jars and lids each had their own merit and that what is mostly wrong in the world is that each has a tendency to feel that it is better than the other. Jars thinking their containing is what matters, and lids feeling superior in their tight lock on life. We all agreed that each with their own merit was made better by the combination of the two. A lid is in need of a jar, just as much as a jar needs a lid. That the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


And that was, as it turns out, the perfect metaphor for a day spent with ones children...that I cannot contain them any more than I can lock them down. They are their own jar and their own lid, I am more of the person responsible for pointing out how close to the ledge they have moved and sometimes yanking them back to a more suitable locale on life’s shelf. In the end, what appears to matter most is that we find within ourselves the ability to be what we need for ourselves while always leaving open the possibility that the addition of someone else, that can make us better, more ourselves and more engaged in this life. It matters not whether we be jar or lid...it matters most that we love ourselves and each other regardless.


I remain forever grateful for bizarre conversations with teens I love. The sharing of the joy of motherhood with the kids that gave us title. I am made more whole by the confines of the role and can see that my own children provide me just as much “lidding” as I do them. I remain forever grateful that when one walks in wooden land, connection remains the goal, with others, with nature and most of all with myself. It is a joyous journey in this amazing life. And I can see that I am blessed as either jar or lid...what matters most is that I show up, be present and love with all I am.




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