There’s a jar on the Sunday morning breakfast table. What’s inside, we do not know, but it must be some kind of jam. I’d like to put some of it on my bread. I seize the jar and get my fingers around the lid. I try to twist it once, but it doesn’t move. My girlfriend asks me to give her the pot, so she can show me how to open it. I don’t. One of our guests also makes a move on it, while I make more attempts with the kitchen towel. The tension rises as I buy some time by explaining them how ridiculously they behave. I would probably do the same.
What makes jars so fascinating that everyone wants to open them? Why do people feel the need to grab it out of another’s hands when they not instantly succeed? Where does this unlikely increased helpfulness come from?
The first thing that comes to my mind is proving yourself. By smoothly opening a jar you can show your strength, or, if you use one of the myriad jar-opening-tricks, your wit. Then again, do we really believe that there are grown up people out there who are incapable of opening a jar? Or is it collective youth trauma? Perhaps we were all so eager to open jars when our hands were smaller than the lid, that the desire has grown out of our control?
An important factor here may be that any jar can only truly be opened once. Opening it makes you the one and only breakfast table overlord. The satisfaction there is comparable to being the first to tread virgin snow, calling upon our animal desire to irreversibly devour beauty.
The opening also causes an irreversible obligation. Not only can we eat, we have to. We have a limited amount of time until its content goes bad. A deliberate reducion of our reserves. Quite a big choice for a jar opener to make, is it not? It showcases the abundance of resources in our domain: what a wealthy collective we are to be able to open a jar.
Finally, there is another kind of satisfaction you can experience there. The jar was stuck and now it’s not. Only the opener will know the secret of how tight it was. ‘Pop!’. It feels funny. And the point in between stuck and released reminds you hands of some inner stuckness, equally looking to be released. There is a sense of infinity there: once the lid turns, it could keep turning forever. You feel a void. The void of your own unhalted force which just opened the jar. As if a little piece of yourself gets launched into freedom.
It turns out that opening a little jar, in our world, can be quite a big thing. Aid should be offered quickly and with stress, else its holder may succeed. Perhaps my friends were not so ridiculous after all.