Cutting an onion makes you cry, but that doesn’t mean you’re sad.
It simply means your body had a biological reaction to the experience.
The chemical irritant is actually known as synpropanethial oxide, which stimulates the lachrymal glands of the eyes and causes them to release tears.
Of course, there are numerous kitchen hacks and home remedies to prevent your eyes from watering, like running cold water or keeping bread in your mouth or freezing the onions ahead of time or wearing protective goggles or lighting a match so the sulfur disables the compounds.
But that’s beside the point.
The real lesson of the onion is recognizing that biological reactions aren’t the only messages worth listening to.
Just because your body responded to a particular experience, doesn’t mean you secretly enjoyed it or asked for it or wanted it all along.
We’ve heard enough cheesy pop songs to know that sometimes the heart says dance, but the body says no chance.
And so, there’s the body, but there’s also the brain and the heart and the soul. All entities are worth listening to. What matters is integration. Wholeness. Allowing the various parts so that nothing can separate you from the wisdom within.
Assisi once said:
When you work with your hands, you are a laborer. When you work with your hands and your head, you are a craftsman. But if you work with your hands, your head, your heart and your soul, you are an artist.
That’s the integration each of us seeks. To make use of everything we are. To leave no asset unharvested. To be alive of our parts and powers.
Which brings us back to the onion.
If we study the etymology of the word, it’s derived from the term unio, which translates to mean unity or oneness.
Interesting. Perhaps the goal, then, is to integrate all of the many layers of what it means to be human in order to better understand who we are.
The head, the hands, the heart and whatever other parts are available for our investigation.
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