When I was a small child, too small to attend camp on my own, I went to camp with my mom. She was camp nurse and I became a sort of camp mascot. I got to run around and do my own thing and the older campers would see me and be kind to this little child who was younger than the rest.
One night for night snack, there were peanut butter cookies. I suspect each child was allowed perhaps two cookies. I don’t think I had ever had peanut butter cookies before that night, and I fell in love with peanut butter cookies that night.
Fell. In. Love.
After I would have had my alotted two cookies, enormously enjoying each morsel in this community, the other children were supportive of my new love. They started giving me some of their peanut butter cookies. The newly discovered love affair with peanut butter cookies continued.
I’m not sure how many cookies I ate that night, but it was substantial.
That night I was sick. Sick to my stomach…bad.
And my love affair with peanut butter cookies stopped as quickly as it started. The next day when the cook offered me another peanut butter cookie, the whiff of it across the room was enough to have the bile rise in the back of my throat.
For years and years after, when I might smell peanut butter cookies, I had to leave the area. I would get nauseous when the odor of freshly baked peanut butter cookies filled the air. I would politely decline and say I was allergic to peanut butter cookies…not peanuts, just the cookies.
I knew that if another peanut butter cookie passed my lips, I would be sick. Just. Knew. It.
And then one day, twenty years later, at university a friend of mine was munching on a cookie with chocolate chips and Reese’s pieces in it…and she offered me a cookie to share. And I ate it…and it was delicious.
Only after I finished enjoying every bit of it, did it happen to come out in conversation that it wasn’t a chocolate chip cookie with Reese’s pieces added…it was a peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips and Reese’s pieces.
I immediately expected to be nauseous and checked my stomach.
And I realized that it wasn’t that I had a negative response to peanut butter cookies…it was that I had a negative response to an overdose of peanut butter cookies.
I was reminded of that story when I heard about elephant training the other day. When an elephant is young, it’s trainer will drive in a stake into the ground and tether the elephant with a rope to the stake. The elephant might pull to wrestle itself away from the stake, but it learns it can’t, so it stops trying.
Then the elephant grows exponentially. It’s still tied to the stake, but it has long since given up trying to pull it out because it has learned it “can’t”.
It doesn’t even realize that now, with its hugely increased mass and strength, it could pull that stake out as if it were a toothpick.
So, it got me to thinking: