How Do I “Throw Candy” Again?

I was away at a beach house reading a book called Present Over Perfect. The author, Shauna Niequist, was describing a time she was away at a lake house. There was a tradition there of throwing candy at kayakers as they paddled by. At one point, in the middle of a lot going on, the host stopped everything to run and throw candy at a couple of kayakers. She was dumbfounded how he could have just stopped in the middle of all that just to throw candy.

As I watched from the deck of the lodge, I began to sob. I sobbed because I used to throw candy, no matter what. I used to be warm and whimsical. I used to believe in the power of silliness and memory-making and laughter. And then I became the kind of person who threw candy as long as it didn’t get in the way of being responsible. I threw candy at sanctioned candy-throwing time, after all the work was done. And then I got so wrapped up in being responsible that it was never the right time to throw candy. And then, the worst thing: I became the kind of person who made fun of candy-throwers.

Shauna Niequist

I struggled as I read this chapter. She acknowledged that she used to be warm and whimsical but all that was a memory now. I could totally relate.


After a whole bunch of life events rearranged the life I had known for so long, I went to a counselor to try to make sense of it all. She asked me one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to ponder: Who are you now that everything is stripped away? I had no idea. 

I mentioned this to a close friend, who had known me for the past almost 40 years. “Oh, I know who you are,” she said. Really? Oh, do tell. “I remember when I first got to know you. You were funny, fun, and lighthearted. I loved that about you.”

Over time, those qualities eroded. Chipped away by one busy season after another. Responsible was my new moniker. Teacher, trainer, serious one. Oh, I still had moments where fun and funny would peek out. But they were the exception to the daily rule. Lighthearted was just a memory. 


So I read Shauna’s description through tears. How do I get that back? How do I “throw candy” again? All I knew is that it was time to reclaim the deepest part of me. When everything around us changes, the invitation to change ourselves has to be accepted. RSVP: Yes. 

I can’t change any of the circumstances, and most of them I would never want to change. They have brought me to the place I am today. But I can change the image that paints a false impression of who I am. 


What are the things that I do that don’t reflect who I am at the deepest level? We all need to ponder that question, I think. When we aren’t being authentic to our true selves, we can’t really be at peace. I’m on a quest to answer this question, but until I figure this out a little more, maybe I’ll just throw a little candy. Maybe we could all use a little candy throwing in our lives!

You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.

Thomas Merton