This summarizes much of my life. Waiting by a garbage can setting my watch to some imaginary time zone in which I am fully functional. The irony of this picture too is that we were walking through the bustle of Toronto’s Chinatown 2010 wondering where we could find traces of Chinatown 1980. Amazing, the number of mental garbage bins we stand beside wondering where the time went.
The primary bin is the belief that things shouldn’t change – not much anyway. That is why my kitchen cupboards are orderly and I can find my way around them blindfolded. But then when an ingredient is no longer to be found at the market or comes in a different shape or size, I’m flummoxed. Mentally, I immediately check my watch to see if I can transport into a different, usually past time zone, where all is available in familiar packaging again! It certainly limits creativity or spontaneity.
Glassman in Instructions to the Cook writes,
How do we find ingredients? We simply open our eyes and look around us. We take the materials that are at hand, right in front of us, and prepare the best meal possible. We work with what we have in each and every moment.
Our body is an ingredient. Our relationships…thoughts… emotions… all our actions…(t)he place we live, the leaves that fall, the haze around the moon, the traffic in the city streets, the corner market – all these are also our ingredients.
The flip side to this is to accept everything as a potential contributor to the taste of a dish. It means seeing past the delusion that someone’s characteristics or actions are an obstacle or that they will spoil the dish. It means using the right amount of a bitter spice or acknowledging that it is available and part of the array on the shelf even if not required in this recipe. Yet the willingness to use an aspect of relationship I want to reject means a willingness to take a risk that it may not work. Risk is a spice I tend to use when my need for belonging is triggered. Inevitably the dish fails because I assume my willingness to take a risk on someone is sufficient to make it all work.
Cooks who have a taste for the spice of risk can’t be afraid of failure. People think they’ve failed when something doesn’t work out the way they expected it to work out. But most things don’t work out the way we expect them to….
Maybe something didn’t happen because it wasn’t the right time. Maybe something didn’t happen because the right people hadn’t come together, or maybe the the circumstances weren’t right. Maybe it will take another ten or fifty or a hundred years. The world always unfolds in its own way.
Thank you for practicing,