We all go through periods of like where we don’t feel as useful as we once did. Perhaps some never feel useful in the first place. I recently got a life lesson about usefulness from the most unexpected place. This life lesson came from a sock.
A Useful Sock
As you can imagine, with six boys, there is plenty of laundry to be done. I fear the day when my washer and dryer decide to go on strike. Aside from the fridge and stove, they are the most used.
Maybe I am the only one who feels this way, but it seems manufacturers make boys’ clothes these days with the intention of having them fall apart. Holes appear in the strangest places on shirts. Their pants are desperate to become shorts as they frequently have rips at the knees. My boys’ socks are regular casualties and I have to check them to make sure toes won’t stick out or there is nothing covering a heel. My boys won’t care. They’ll wear them anyways and my eyes become fixated on the skin that is trying to escape through the holes which leads me to tell my boys to go change their socks and put the old ones in the garbage. The socks almost always end up back in the laundry.
This day I was folding laundry and came across a piece of what used to be a sock. Once I got over the disbelief that someone thought a fragment of a sock would be worth being put through the wash, I decided to toss it to the side to be thrown into the trash later. It was time for it to go.
And that’s when the lesson happened.
I heard some noise coming from behind me where the sock had landed and found one of our two cats playing with the piece of sock. She was joyously tossing it in the air and was rolling on the floor. She loved it. I paused folding laundry and began dangling the piece of sock over her, making the fabric tickle her face. She would smack it around and pull it toward her.
And then the second cat came. She too wanted to play with the piece of sock. She sat to the side and watched patiently until I dangled it in front of her and she took a few swings while the other cat watched. (They don’t like to play with an object at the same time. They will share by taking turns). They played and played with the piece of sock. And from that moment on, it had a name. It was “Piece of Sock”.
Being Useful Can Sometimes Mean Changing
Until that time, it was just a sock, like every other sock in the laundry pile. There was nothing special about it. But over time it had become stretched, pulled and transformed. It was now only a fragment of what it was before and had started a new life as “Piece of Sock”.
You see, when I wanted to throw Piece of Sock in the garbage, I had still viewed it as a sock. I didn’t see it as its new form. I hadn’t yet become aware of its usefulness. The cats saw Piece of Sock as something useful and like Dobby the House Elf being presented with clothes (a little Harry Potter thrown in here), they were overjoyed by Piece of Sock.
Had it continued to be labeled as a sock, no one would have seen its potential. Piece of Sock had changed. Its purpose was no longer to keep feet warm, but instead had a new role of entertaining the cats. They love Piece of Sock. It has become their friend. They sleep with it. They give it a poke with their noses when they enter the room. Piece of Sock belongs to them.
What Is The Life Lesson?
You change. People change. Circumstances change. When you start feeling useful or others feel useful, perhaps you are trying to still be a sock when you should become a Piece of Sock. You are still you, but you have transformed based on being stretched, pulled, challenged… Don’t force yourself to be a sock. Embrace being a Piece of Sock and play with cats.