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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

Day +76: Mashed potatoes

This morning, day +76, while walking the dogs, my mom turned to me and asked, “Did I tell you about the dream where I was feeding Ramón mashed potatoes? He loved them.” Without hesitation, I responded, “Aww, that makes me happy.” Now, reflecting on our exchange, it’s interesting that my first response was one of joy. If Ramón was four months old, the conversation might have been commonplace, but he’s not. Several months ago, my mom’s dream would have been hilarious, yet now it’s entirely appropriate. Circumstances have redefined my waking dreams, too, and I’m trying – and mostly succeeding – to accept the changes with an open mind.

Ramón in New Orleans in February 2018, admiring food with all his heart.

It got me thinking about the benefits of open-mindedness. Being open-minded not only creates the opportunity for change and acceptance, but it also frees us from our ego-driven need to be all-knowing. I’ll share an example from my own adolescence. Growing up with cystic fibrosis, I carried my share of sadness because my health generated feelings of isolation and fear. As a result, I thought my life was hard, and, in some respects, I was right. It was difficult growing up with an incurable disease, wondering how long I might live.

However, when focused on my troubles, I didn’t realize all the ways in which my life was easy. These things include, to name a handful: a stable living arrangement, food on the table at mealtime, college-educated parents to help with homework, health insurance to cover my medical needs, and, of course, being white. I didn’t realize the weight of these privileges because it was my norm. Though I lived with this mindset for a lot of my formative years, education and conversation later made me aware of the ways in which I didn’t acknowledge how fortunate I truly was. It pains me that I didn’t make this revelation sooner, but what’s most important is that I changed my mind – a powerful, yet difficult feat. I admitted, to myself and to others, that I didn’t know something.

I always thought I was open-minded because, in many ways, I was. However, by making myself vulnerable enough to amend my longstanding beliefs, I flourished in a major way. Yes, being correct can be comforting, but freeing yourself from the need to be right is courageous – and that’s where growth happens. As with my example, I had to move beyond my own pain and fear to uncover information that enabled me to shift my perspective. As a result, I became more compassionate, less judgmental, and accepted that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

Several months ago, I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me that I’d shriek with excitement if I saw my grown-ass husband being fed mashed potatoes. But now I know I would. And a baked potato? I can’t even fathom that celebration. Ramón is still in the ICU, and it’s been a record-setting 15 days apart. Tonight, between 8 and 9pm ET, I ask that you take a few minutes to flood Ramón with healing energy. Then, once you’re in the zone, please inundate our world with the same. I don’t need to tell you that people are hurting in the Black community and beyond; we all know this. But, more importantly, what don’t we know, and how can we open our minds to long overdue change?


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