Monday, September 13, 2010

The Zen of Opening

It all began 28 years ago, in the fall of 1982, when seven people died after taking Tylenol capsules. The capsules had been laced with potassium cyanide. The case has never been solved. No suspects have been charged. And the $100,000 reward that Johnson & Johnson offered for the capture and conviction of the “Tylenol Killer” has never been claimed.

It is because of that incident that I cannot open anything easily.

Everything I use -- from olive oil to medicines to makeup -- is packaged in such a way that I am protected from all lunatics who might squirt evil substances into these things. And most of the time, it seems as though I also am protected from my olive oil, medicines, and makeup.

To open anything now requires the focusing equivalent of high Zen. The container needs to be examined, slowly and carefully. Are there any perforations that hint at an expedited entry? Any little tags that, when pulled, might reveal the contents I seek? Usually not. In the absence of these aids, I must use whatever logic (and patience) I can muster to determine whether I can simply push down and twist my way in or (as is usually the case) I will need either a sharp implement or heavy blunt instrument to force the issuing.

I am (sometimes) grateful for all the care that has gone into protecting me. And I know that complete focus – mindfulness as it were – is good for the soul. To be truly present to the container and its contents, excluding all other concerns (with the possible exception of a few choice epithets) is excellent discipline.


I often long for the days of easy opening, carefree access, and generously flowing olive oil, medications and make up.

The Tylenol Killer has, it seems, not only killed seven people in the Chicago area. He or she has made the little details of our lives more challenging . . . forevermore.


No comments:

Post a Comment