I tell myself that every creative being has an off day. I have to believe that looking down at the slice I made in my left thumb with the exquisitely sharp tip of my brand new chef’s knife. That wasn’t the end of it either.
I forgot to separate the eggs for my pastry cream and had to don a snow hat over my uncombed bed hair to run to the grocery to buy another dozen…mascara rings, braless tank top from yesterday, and all.
My pastry shells did not rise to their typical glorious height in the oven, even when I repeated them twice, and let them rest on the warm counter for their proper time, which I never do. They stared at me from their pan, all miniscule and pitiful, like hot eyes boring into me.
I put Italian flat leaf parsley into my salsa instead of cilantro.
I forgot to grease my pan before I gently laid the eggs down into it.
I neglected to add the spices and salt to my homemade granola, until I had carefully arranged it all onto the sheet pan. At that point, I just dug my frustrated fingers into the coriander, the cinnamon, the salt, and just dove straight into that granola, mixing it until it was up to my elbows and stuck to my arm hairs. (Don’t worry, I didn’t give this to anybody to eat. I took a picture of it and threw it into the trash, pan and all).
It’s on these days I catch myself wondering if what I spend my time doing is misdirected. I let my thoughts wander from ingredients to doubt and I seem to forget for a moment, all the fun times I’ve had creating in this kitchen, and moreover, all the lessons I’ve learned.
It’s easy to forget those moments when my kitchen looks like this.
This was a picture taken yesterday, in the midst of my chaos. There is a pile of bloody paper towels from my knife incident by the Keurig machine, under the plastic wrap roll that I threw over there in a small fit of rage. That pill bottle by the food processor is not Ativan, but it probably should be.
Truth be told, I’ve learned love here. I know this to be true in my heart as my eyes focus on my cluttered countertop, the cold floor my bare feet are so used to standing on for hours. This cozy room that was built for me by my husband, so I could have a special place to work and create.
I see Luke at the table a few feet from me, munching and working on his tablet. He feels my eyes on him and he looks up to smile.
I call Mason down from this room to hold something for me for a photo. His little hands instinctively know what to do, because he’s helped me so many times before.
“What else do I need to be doing?”, I ask myself. “Cleaning, watching TV, out shopping at the mall?” Ridiculous. I have every need to be right here with my boys close to me. They’d miss the smells wafting from this room on a Saturday morning. They’d wonder where their second and third breakfasts were going to come from!
I’ve learned confidence here in this kitchen, discovering my ability to create. Food has accepted me, it’s my artistic medium, it makes me feel competent, and at peace. It doesn’t expect me to say the right things or believe the way it does. It helps me see the beauty in everyday things and brings me close to the earth. I love the feel of cold vegetables, their wieldy shapes, the way they smell like the soil they grew in.
It somehow makes me hopeful, like there is something wonderful to be anticipated.
Because there truly always is, though at times the future may seem bleak.
Perhaps most of all, cooking has taught me perseverance. It has helped me learn the significance of not giving up, even when you catch yourself wondering what it is all for. I’ve learned that every good cook has burned the biscuits at times. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good…they are just having an off day, and that’s ok. Imagine what the world may have missed, had they given up then, because of one little charred bit of failure.
So yesterday, I pressed a paper towel to my thumb to soak up the blood, washed my hands, and kept going. I gathered some patience to ease my eggs out of the pan I had neglected to grease, and turned them into a beautiful dish.
At the end of the day, I ended up creating one of the most beautiful desserts I’ve ever made out of those stubborn pastries that I had to coax into rising for me.
And with that it was a new day and I knew that I’d go onto have more good days and even bad ones. The lesson being that I’d go on, period.
Great lessons would be lost if everything went easy for us, don’t you think?
So if you are having an off day, wipe off your blood, your sweat, your tears, buy an extra roll of paper towels at the grocery, and rest assured that you have learned something. This has simply just been an off day for you, and tomorrow you will cook, run, create, build, or whatever you do, anew!