Life is full of Belly Flops |

Life is full of Belly Flops

I have always struggled to get the kid in me to take a back seat to the callings of adult responsibilities. Life, for me, is good when any road trip involves a stop at the world famous Jelly Belly Factory. And though in previous visits at this must-see destination, my pleasure had quickly succumbed to a stomachache for the ages, memories of the agony soon yielded to the sheer joy of seeing hundreds of gallons of jelly beans lining the walls with personal favorites Dr. Pepper, Chocolate Pudding and Wild Blackberry insuring a lengthy sugar high.

But only one memory will bring me back time and time again. Belly Flops! You see, though all Jelly Bellys are created equal, not every one looks the same on the outside. Learning first hand on the tour the tedious process by which each Jelly Belly is created to perfection, I appreciate that not every jelly bean comes to fit the standard of perfection. Some simply do not make the grade. To my delight, Belly Flops, those jelly beans deemed “lesser,” are bagged in bulk and sold at discount, but only in the factory or, of course, on eBay. They may not look the same, but as I grabbed four large bags to keep the dispenser in my office filled, I knew deep down that these jelly beans were no different than their sculpted, polished counterparts. Only after stepping into a jelly bean factory did I realize that the greater general public would never know they had been tricked into believing all true Jelly Bellys look alike.

Realize it or not, we buy daily into this philosophy set forth by much of the jelly bean industry. We take one look at the outside and assume we know what the inside is like. But life is not that easy. If I simply judged by appearance I might have never tried some of the ghastly Belly Flop shapes that looked more like modern art than what I was raised to believe a jelly bean should look like.

I know you have probably heard it before, but what Belly Flops remind me of, what we all need to remember, is that deep down what we look like on the outside is not the determining factor of what we are on the inside. I have learned that when biting into one I need to have an open mind concerning what I encounter, no matter what the outside looks like. When I enter my beloved jelly bean world with an open mind, I am almost always satisfied when I get to the heart of the matter, even if the flavor turns out to be Buttered Popcorn. In buying a bag of assorted bulk Belly Flops, I receive some crazy fulfillment from sharing my life with those who might not be given a fair chance simply because they might just look a little, or a lot, different. After all, when the truth comes out, I am just a Belly Flop, too.

Jeremy Heiser volunteers at YouthZone.

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