Friday, November 28, 2008

Cookies Without Perfection

When my parents met, they were both accountants. This probably explains my fondness for putting ideas into tidy tables or charts. When I was little, my father used to tell me there was no room in this world for mistakes. I believed him. For the most part I still believe him. I wonder if there are parents out there who teach their children at an early age that the purpose of life is to make mistakes, to keep on trying out things until they create something really marvelous.

I keep on wondering how I can have two bookshelves full of self-help books and my life be in such a mess. To my way of thinking, my life should be as tidy as a well-maintained spread sheet. I read the books. I understood the concepts. I even tried to apply them now and then.

I think the problem is that in each book the procedure worked well for that person and maybe their students, but it is only one way of going about solving a problem or living a life. In fact, many of the books I have contradict one another. Each time I read a new book, I am starting from scratch, assuming that whatever I have read up until that time was wrong. After all, don’t many of the books actually refer to other philosophies and say just that.

Years ago I became fascinated by the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe. It seemed to me that it was the basis for so much excitement. Every few weeks I would add new ingredients or change something in the recipe. I had many happy surprises, and only a few not so happy ones. I thought about that a few days ago when I was hankering for some white chocolate chip cranberry cookies. Would it really be so hard to try to make some without an official recipe? I am a little out of practice making cookies, but the thought is appealing. I wish I could feel that way about making changes in my life. I wish I felt up for a grand experiment rather than needing to have something perfectly spelled out in a book. Why is it so easy to do that with cookies and so terrifying to do that with the other parts of my life?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

"There is no room in this world for mistakes." really hit me between the eyes. It is hard to believe that an actual person thought that, let alone said it out loud! How do you learn if you don't make mistakes? I'm not talking terrible, deadly mistakes, but simple ones . . . transposing a number in your checkbook register, reading a measurement wrong for an ingredient in an recipe, buying something that you never wear ;-) If we must live without mistakes, wouldn't that lead to fear of everything?