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"Popcorn Seeds, Hearing Loss, & Identity"

Uncategorized Jul 21, 2021

The year is 1997 and it’s an ordinary day in the Sam household. My older sister is blasting Spice Girls and running around the house. I am watching TV, eating popcorn. My younger brother is doing both – running around with my sister at times, watching TV with me at others – to appease his big sister and big brother. Having two older siblings is exhausting, I’m sure. 


Eventually, the three of us wind up in the TV room. The movie is finished. We have collectively decimated the popcorn and are now left with unpopped popcorn seeds. While many would consider these unhatched kernels to signal the end of the festivities, we were just getting started.


It is amazing how many different places in your own body you can fit a popcorn seed. Nose, belly buttons, fingers, toes, hairs, the list goes on and on. Most of the places we experimented with were safe bets. They could be easily removed. Until we got to the ears.


Knowing that sticking the seed in her ears would be a bad idea, my sister pretended to put a seed in her ear while showing her younger brothers so that we would follow. In reality, the seed was sitting on the outer edge of her ear. It’s no fun unless we follow, so we did as we were told. I could tell that she was just setting the seed at the edge of her ear, not actually putting it too far in. My younger brother could not. So as I partook of my sister’s shenanigans, my brother followed the chain and lodged a seed in his ear. It was pretty funny...until we realized that the seed was stuck.


My sister panics and yells for help. My mom investigates and is mortified by what she sees. I become a fly on the wall, get out another bag of popcorn and watch as my mom lays my brother on his side while my sister takes the hose attachment from our vacuum cleaner and latch it onto my brother’s ear to suck the seed out. You cannot make this stuff up. 

Sadly, the vacuum surgery sucked. However, my older ghetto-surgeon-in-training sister was not done. Next, she theorized that water is slippery and maybe if a few drops were put in my brother’s ear, the seed would loosen. Brilliant, right? Not quite. What is the one thing that seeds need to grow? And here they are dripping it into my brother’s ear, wondering why on earth this darn popcorn seed will not come out. Not only was the seed still stuck, it was now growing due to my sister’s ingenious interventions.

Eventually, my brother had to be taken to the emergency room (shocker), or a place that had better equipment for seed removal than a hoover. The doctor at the emergency room later told us that while the vacuum probably wasn’t going to do much damage, if we kept putting water on my brother’s ear he might have been a lifetime hearing aid user. Dodged that bullet.

A very basic procedure later and the popcorn seed was shrunk and removed from my brother’s ear. While the doc was bemused by our antics, he remarked that we had given him a novel experience as most kids come into the ER with popcorn seeds up their noses, not their ears. Amateurs. Guess it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all involved.

Why the old school story? Sometimes our struggle to find self-worth and value is because we are relying on sources that cannot provide it. We are in the middle of a broken chain and we do not realize it, the same way that my brother and I put popcorn seeds in our ears because of the model set before us. 

We often extract life lessons and even our reasoning from the people we look up to. The people whose opinions we care about the most. We ought to choose wisely.

Your source of value is your god. People, relationships, romance, money, cars, houses, status, followers, fame, fortune, wealth. We search high and low looking for value because it is our wiring. We know that it must be discovered and that in of ourselves, we are limited. If you do not understand this value dynamic, you will fall into the trap of thinking that you simply decide your value or you will stay oblivious to the primary sources that are defining your worth. Mark my words: There is always a source and we are at our best when it is God.

Cheering you on,


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