Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"don't force it" and other lessons from the kitchen

this past weekend, i visted my local farmer's market and enjoyed perusing the just-caught fish for sale. i was reminded of the rule of thumb about mussels, clams and oysters - so simple, it seems it would be obvious even if you hadn't been told - if it doesn't open when you cook it, discard.

i couldn't help that thinking that this very basic piece of culinary truth was actually much, much more than that. it's a good rule of thumb for many things in life and reminds me of a phrase my husband mitchell often uses - "don't force it."

by "forcing it" he means the act of trying to make something work that simply doesn't, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. when we were first together, this "not forcing" was a hard concept for me - i was in the habit of making things happen the way i wanted with little regard for the signs along the way that might have indicated a better approach, a wiser plan, a more patient solution. it was sometimes about trying to plan too busy a day, spend too much money, even the tendency to settle for one chair over another because it was available sooner. "don't force it" meant let's not overbook our saturday, let's wait until next week to buy that coat, let's live with what we have while we wait for the dream chair to be delivered.

and sometimes when the universe is resisting something - a job, a relationship, a move - when the shell doesn't open, maybe it's because what's inside isn't right for us, or ready for us, or maybe there isn't anything there at all. i love when i discover underlying meaning in the tasks that make a house a home. there are so many things i've learned as a cook and a gardener (and i use those words loosely) that apply in the rest of life, sometimes figuratively and sometimes quite literally.

i suppose it's not surprising that some of the smartest, most instinctive people i know are excellent cooks and gardeners. they have honed the art of paying attention, being flexible, changing course and knowing when to be patient, and when to act swiftly. the more experience i have in these arenas, the more important i find it to take stock and be aware of the lessons i am picking up -- maybe that's what they mean by chicken soup for the soul.


britt said...

thank you for this post. it was just what i needed to read.

honey living said...

i'm so glad it was meaningful to you britt. and thanks for letting me know.

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