Just the other day at Starbucks I noticed the new style of to- go cups that the baristas were serving. My immediate thought was, “these cups are so dumb, why is the straw hole so big, I’m going to spill my drink.” I didn’t even stop to consider why the “straw holes” would be so big and what that might mean for my utility of the cup. Later after I received my drink, I ventured off to dance practice where one of my peers confronted me jokingly and said, “what are you doing… why did you put a straw in that cup?” and my initial response, was to be defensive and insult the Starbucks corporation for the poor design of their new cups. It wasn’t until my peer pointed out the intentionally straw-less design of the new cups, that I realized my closed minded and habitual behaviors did not allow me to see the innovativeness in the new cup design.
I think this really invites us to consider whether or not as people, we judge things that are new to us instead of looking for a deeper understanding and meaning behind the things we are judging. In The Fifth Season, Syenite is initially caught off-guard by Alabaster’s behavior while they are on their journey to Allia from the Fulcrum. Syenite noticed that Alabaster was quelling all of the shakes in the area beneath the Earth wherever they pass through. She spends a few days questioning his behavior in private and even applying what she’s been taught at the Fulcrum to invalidate it.
“Once Syenite figures this out, she is…confused. Because there’s no point to quelling microshakes, and indeed, doing so might make things worse the next time a larger shake occurs. They were very careful to teach her this, back when she was a grit learning basic geomestry and seismology: The earth does not like to be restrained.” (The Fifth Season 117)
It is not until day three of the quelling that Syenite finally finds herself annoyed enough to ask him why he keeps doing “that.” Alabaster responds by saying, “I’m giving the node maintainers a break. Every microshake I settle eases the burden on them.” (The Fifth Season 119) Even after he explains what it is that he is doing, Syenite is still stuck to her fixated way of thinking from the Fulcrum because she thinks she already has an understanding of node maintainers and suggests that Alabaster “leave the micros to the node maintainers.” (The Fifth Season 119) In this instance, she is guilty of being closed-minded and unwilling to grow in her understanding of Alabasters decision to quell the shakes.
Later on in the chapter, Alabaster uses her ignorance towards the matter as a teaching moment to show her the truth behind the existence of the node maintainers. To Syenites surprise, she is upset and disgusted the by the status of the orogene in the station. “She didn’t know it was possible to keep a body alive like this: immobile, unwilling, indefinite.” (The Fifth Season 140) By being able to draw a visual relationship to Alabasters verbal inferences towards freedom, Syenite finally sees the bigger picture. “The node maintainer: a child, kept like this for what must have been months or years.” (The Fifth Season 140) After realizing that Alabaster has been sessing the quells to take some of the pressure off of the node maintainers, Syenite sees the bigger picture of the position of Orogenes in the world and the small impact that Alabaster makes by sessing the local quells. In a way, he’s doing “his part” in making a small change for the orogene affected.
I relate this to my straw situation. Initially I was super judgmental about the reason Starbucks would put such a large hole in the new cup design. I did not care why the hole was there and even made a suggestion that they re-think the design, just as Syenite suggested Alabaster “leave the micros to the node maintainers,” but shortly after I realized that the reason for the holes, in the bigger picture, was to save plastic and eliminate waste in the world. By not taking a straw I am doing my part in making a difference to influence sustainability in the world. Inquiring on things that I do not understand with an open mind is what I find to be the key to gaining knowledge. It does not make sense for me to ask a question and not be open to the answer and the implications behind the answer. This all leads me to assess my straw situation from a new perspective, maybe they are not specifically straw-holes, but instead “drinking holes.”