do onions really smell?


“Ogres are like onions.”

In the movie Shrek, the ogre is walking with Donkey through a field. Shrek is trying to describe his complexity. “Ogres have layers” he continues. Donkey doesn’t get it and wonders if Ogres are like cakes, because they have layers too and more people like cake. It’s an amusing, but deeply human moment. The analogy of a simple vegetable revealing real human depth, in an ogre. But as in many of today’s great children’s animations, there are messages, metaphors, analogies for the adults.

And… we are all like onions.

Layers of complexity. People we meet will see the outer layer. Those who look deeper may see what lies in the next layer down, or even the one beneath. If we pay attention to people and really take the time to notice, we can all see layers of their complexity and a depth of ‘human being’ in those we meet. We can never see it all though – even in those we are closest to.

We, in turn, may let friends, and those close to us in. Sometimes sufficiently to see the three, four, five layers beneath the outer layers, but there may be a core we don’t let anyone in to see. We may not even know ourselves what lies at the heart of our humanity, our self, our soul. What we are really made of, capable of.

Experiences can reveal our own layers to us. Sometimes difficult experiences, moments of conflict, moments of pain, moments of personal challenge. These can reveal deeper truths to us, but only if we take the time to notice. Only if we are resourceful enough in the moment to learn. And often we are not.

We need to be curious about ourselves, take time to notice, be compassionate with ourselves, learn to reflect, give ourselves time. And we need to recognise the times when we are avoiding the difficult learning, by telling ourselves that well trodden story we have always told ourselves. We need to look for our true truth. Learn to learn. About ourselves.

An onion flavours our cooking.

Your layers flavour you.