Label Maker

I don’t know about y’all, but I love my label maker. I bought a fancy one and have proceeded to label my entire craft room. In the hope of becoming more organized, each little drawer has its contents listed and of course, the drawers are placed in themes within their cabinets. I have labeled the kids’ rooms also. When the boys shared a room, it was imperative that each had his own distinct spot for colored T-shirts, socks underwear and pajamas. Now that they have moved into their own rooms, some of those labels have still stuck. What was once “Camden’s underwear,” is now “Miles’ socks.” I’m afraid some of the same misnomers have appeared in the craft room. The googly eye drawer has transformed into the glitter drawer and the scissor drawer is full of tape. Time goes on, things change. My mind has quickly adapted to what the label says and what it actually means.

There are labels in life that I never thought would fit me. It’s funny how that happens. Your preconceived ideas of the disabled and on disability or morphine addict don’t exactly pop into your head with my face on them. But nonetheless, those labels at one point, belonged with me. It was, per say what was in my drawer at the time. There are other labels that I never thought I would lose: runner, HLH patient, spiritual but not Christian. Once again my drawer contents have changed, some by desire, others not willfully forfeited. Then there are those labels that you are just so lucky to get: mom, survivor, friend. But what about those drawers where items are stuffed where they don’t belong? I’m thinking about those big categories that people stuff you in, but you are not quite sure where you fit? Democrat, liberal, conservative, republican. Then add another qualifier to it, Christian, southerner, educated and a whole different category comes up. Interesting is it not? A christian democrat? A southern liberal? It’s not as clear as whether or not the drawer is full of socks or underwear.

It’s not like I’m reinventing this conversation. It has plagued our society for ages AND much like the googly eye drawer, the content may have changed, but the label did not. It also works in reciprocate. For example, politics is the easiest example to go with. JFK was a democrat. A democrat that believed in a large military, no racial quotas and peace through military strength. A very different democrat than what is present today. Of course there is also a very different republican party. Current republicans would have trouble with the ideals of Lincoln, arguable the most famous “republican.”

To even be privileged enough to have this conversation brings up the most obvious labels I know nothing about. I am not black nor homosexual. Those seemingly trump many other categories in people’s minds. The mind has tricked you into believing what you think is in the box, as opposed to what actually may be; much like I know that glitter is in the googly eye box, even though that’s not what it says. Like when my kids run up to me looking for the glitter, “it’s in the googly eye box.” “Are you sure?” yes, but let me explain. Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to follow the label? But sometimes, if you are really persistent and you look closely into the box, “hey Mom! you will never guess what I found in the googly eye box?” “I know, glitter, I’ve been meaning to get around to relabeling…” “NOOOO! I found sequins! And that lost pink crayon I was looking for.” You never know what you are going to find unless you look inside the box. By all means, never take my word for what’s in the box- find out for yourself.

Unfortunately I think that humans like to categorize, even though we insist we do not. It gives us the illusion of understanding a great big chaotic world. But what I would warn you of is not to categorize yourself right out of an awesome friendship, an intellectual relationship or a possibility that the label was so much more than you realized. Gasp! You may even be wrong.

Yes, it was actually in the tape drawer.

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