Zeal and explosives

20 Jun

Yesterday was another fun day in the Uniteen/YOU class.

We have been working through the 12 powers and we have made it to zeal. I know, I know, all the powers are meant to be used together, but Zeal (also called enthusiasm) is a power that I am often accused of having a lot of, and really, it’s a favorite.

After we had talked about zeal some, we went outside to make a little experiment. Vinegar, dish soap and food coloring was added to each plastic water bottle. Then baking soda was placed in a tissue and put in the bottle. As the chemical reaction did its thing, our bottles began to foam and overflow.   Nothing very surprising there. We talked about how we can have too little, just the right amount of things going on or too many things. Overzealous can get messy.

Then, just like an episode of Mythbusters, we went extreme. The teens noticed that we hadn’t done a red one and since we still had a bottle we had to do that one too. And they wanted to know what would happen if we put the lid on… SO, that’s what we did, and the lid was screwed on REAL tight.

We watched and waited. Bubbles formed, eventually it fell over because the bottom had expanded. And still we waited. Some of the teens wanted to kick it or something, but I wasn’t going to let that happen so I thought, well hey, if I just unscrew the top a smidge it will let off the pressure and all will be well. That is NOT how it happened, I turned that lid a smidge and pink vinegar foam went everywhere! My car, the side of the youth ed building, and oh yes, me, got bathed. (you can kinda see the bottom of my pants are all pink. The shirt hid the pink well.)While being sprayed by explosive pink vinegar solution is not on my recommended list, it surely holds a great lesson.

There are choices, we can live like the bottles before the baking soda, room to move around and stable but boring as well. We can be like the uncapped bottles and sometimes overflow with too much but after a while it fizzles out and we start they cycle again. Or we can cap up our lives and eventually the only possible thing to happen is an explosion.

We talked about how zeal works so well in partnership with other powers. We need wisdom and understanding to know when it’s time to spring forth into action and when it’s not. We need will to stay the course. We need love to direct our zeal in life affirming ways. But the most powerful thing for me was our discussion of power and zeal.

Life feels intense when you’re a teen, and not much less as an adult. (really, it’s just that we have hopefully learned to manage the extremes better). It is just as easy to get worked up into a frenzy over wining a ball game as it is over a former friend saying something mean. So we have to learn healthy ways to let the pressure off so we aren’t like the red bottle with no release. We can use power through our words to create more peace or more chaos. Miranda said that she is the person her friends go to when they are upset and she lets them take off the pressure so that they can face the situation calmly.

We can also use the power of our words and thoughts to continue to add more and more fuel to the raging fire. I have had that experience where someone started raging against a perceived ‘wrong’ on my behalf, and I had already gotten over it. If I hadn’t, it might have caused me a lot of stress and angst.

As I said, I love zeal, and it’s a delicate balance. Without passion and enthusiasm, we are like the bottle without baking soda, Just chillin’ and not getting anywhere. In the right dose, you get a party simmering and are propelled to move, there is a balance of overflow and underflow that has a natural cycle. What happened with the red bottle is a perfect example of having enthusiasm and not having a adequate release or venue for it.

It was a great day and a great reminder, one none of us will forget anytime soon.

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