There is a new principle. I have called it the Oreo Principle. On the outside are two crisp imprinted dark circular biscuits. On the inside, is a soft sweet vanilla filling or cream. (All non-vegan)
The top biscuit is a person’s outer layer. The one we expose to the world around us. Depending on the person, it can be very crisp and thick-skinned, weathered by life’s storms or it can be prone to crumble. Either way, this is the self that is open to cliches, such as “she is ruthless”, perhaps “insensitive” or “warm and embracing”. This is how people with whom we are less familiar may perceive us and it is just that: a perception.
The other or bottom biscuit is the relaxed, true essence of the person. Depending on the person’s preference, conscious or unconscious, this is the self that is stripped of ego, needs and excess. Think of it as the person who has no make-up on, no jewellery, no fancy name brand clothes and is eating cold left-overs from the fridge with a spoon. This is the self that, once critically examined, has an inner smile and is at peace.
It is the soft inside that affects the two outside biscuits. It can make them both or one of them break, crumble or go soggy. It is also, I am told by my Oreo enthusiast husband, the best part. It will only be the best part once you have dealt with all the ingredients that are creamed together. The ingredients here are those character traits that are unfortunate if not tackled and that hold us back.
If we tackle them, they blend together into a sweet cream that keeps the outer layers whole. This can only happen if we are honest with ourselves and trusted others. For some, this may require professional guidance and for others, a journal, self-help books or close bonds with others may do the trick. Whatever the means, it is an important journey that may take years, that one may abandon and then restart years later or it may happen like a light bulb moment. Be warned but not afraid: the journey is one that may need to be repeated many times in our lives. If you are lucky, or strive for continuous improvement, dealing with the soft part may be a daily activity.
The soft “stuff” often squeezes out when under pressure or under strain. That is not to say it is bad. It is useful and good when it is acknowledged. Then one can improve and find harmonious plateaus in life. These are the “Top of Table Mountain” moments!
Everyone has a different soft centre. For some it is unnecessary anger. For others it may be arrogance, the ego or intense irritation. It could be a failure to take responsibility for one’s actions. The attractive part of the journey is that it is like a lucky packet or a tin of biscuits. You just do not know what you could find. Perhaps being honest that you are prone to irritation, as an example, could lead you to turn that characteristic into one that is productive. Irritation could become part of the top outer biscuit, in the form of acceptance and tolerance.
Only once the soft part has been tackled, does the whole biscuit come together. It forms a sweet sandwich, plus it is a delight and a wonder. It forms a whole. It is not perfection as this too can become an obsessive part of the softness. It is something that cannot easily be broken, it has trusted confidants or confidant and it works. Whilst the Oreo Principle may mislead one to think this is a principle about uniformity and commercialisation, it is not. The principle acknowledges that we are not the same and cannot be moulded into a common cookie-cutter human. We may have the same form e.g. limbs, torso, head, but it is the softness inside that makes us who we are as individuals.
The challenge is to tackle the inside in the quest for individual wholeness and harmony. This will crisp the two biscuits and make the journey on earth all the more worthwhile. In a speech to Harvard graduates in 2008, JK Rowling was the guest speaker and she quoted Plutarch:
what we achieve inwardly will change our outer reality.
(Please note: this blog is not endorsed by the manufacturers of Oreo biscuits nor is it an advertisement to load-up your Western super-size trolley at the supermarket with Oreo biscuits, unless you are my dear husband who is surely Oreo’s most loyal customer in the Southern Hemisphere. Bless him for his unknown contribution to this blog.)