Who Can You Reach With Your Spoon?

Woman feeding man with a spoon.By Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP

I listened to the episode of Brene Brown’s podcast “Unlocking Us” again this week in which she interviews David Koessler, the world’s foremost expert on grief and grieving. It is a profound conversation and I highly recommend investing an hour of your time to listen in.

During the podcast,  Kessler shares the parable of the long spoons. I was walking while listening to the podcast and the story’s applicability to what we are all experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic–continuous waves of unsettling news washing over us daily–stopped me in my tracks. In its simplest form, the parable describes a woman’s glimpse into the afterlife. In one room, she sees an elaborate feast, experiences the smell of baked bread, and sees delicious dishes of every variety. The room is filled with people holding very long spoons; spoons too long to actually be useful to eat any of the food. The people in this room are unhappy, gaunt, silent, and starving. In the second room, she sees and smells the same delicious feast and sees again that each person has a long spoon. However, in this room, everyone is laughing, eating, and enjoying the tremendous feast together. They are boisterous and living life to the fullest. In this room, everyone is using their spoon to feed someone else.

In this unprecedented time, I encourage you to see who you can reach with your spoon. By feeding, nurturing, and caring for each other, we can and will make it through this challenging time. As we are all beginning to realize, there is not likely to be a quick return to “normal.” For the first time in many of our lifetimes, we are all in the same storm and while  each of our boats is very different, I believe that the key to our perseverance through a long period of isolation, anxiety, and ambiguous/disconnected grief can be weathered if we understand that by nourishing those around us, we also nourish ourselves.

Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP, is parking and transit manager for the Town of Estes Park, Colo., and chair of the Estes Valley Resiliency Collaborative (EVRC).