Funny how things often don’t turn out the way you plan them. This weekend, I ran across a recipe for an old-fashioned custard chocolate pie that had me drooling, and I made an honest attempt at it on Saturday afternoon. Usually a somewhat accomplished cook, I currently have a pie dish of chocolate soup on the shelf in my refrigerator. Not exactly the result I was expecting. I know there’s that whole when life gives you lemons thing, but it’s hard to make lemonade, or anything else remotely consumable, out of chocolate soup. So for now, there is a glaring reminder of failure every time I open my fridge. I should really throw that out.
I have always been a compulsive planner. Every tiny detail of my life was orchestrated at one point, or that’s what I attempted. It’s so funny when I look back on my life though, and I find that the best parts were not so carefully arranged by my own hands.
As a teacher, I’d spend so much time planning lessons – which is necessary, of course. The best ones though? The most valuable moments in the classroom? Those were the times that the discussion took a leap of its own or the course veered off a little into the wild from what I had intended. Those were the moments when I saw an “a-ha” light across a student’s face or I planted a seed for thought in a malleable little brain.
As much as I adore traveling, I also love travel planning. I pore over travel books for months before an expected trip and make notes on what I want to see or do or eat in a city. But again, those moments that make me fall in love with a new place are certainly not planned. ……An impromptu cocktail hour on a punt on the River Cam with old and new friends. …..Hearing one jazz band’s rendition of “Superstition” and dancing with my college roommate on our senior spring break, later befriending that band and making some of the funniest memories to reflect on years later. ……Stumbling on a cafe and sharing a bottle of wine with friends in the middle of the afternoon on a busy Parisian street. ……Sitting in a park in Seattle with my baby all cuddled in a carrier on my chest and hot coffee in my hand as we watch the market sellers get ready for the day. …….Taking the long way back to the tram stop in Amsterdam and strolling through Vondel Park. All moments burned in my mind. None of them orchestrated by me.
This journal is much the same for me. I never really know much about what I am going to say when I start writing here. Not usually anyway. Often the ones where I am totally clueless what that second sentence will be emerge as some of my favorite entries while the ones where I have a “thesis” from the beginning never really get published because I end up hating them and not really feeling it anymore. Again, not what I really expect but I’ve learned to just go with it.
I’m not sure what my purpose is in writing this today. Perhaps I just need a reminder sometimes that life is good always, but it’s best consumed in its raw state. As it comes. Without trying to stir it or knead it or mold it or bake it or make it something I think is best. Because if there’s one thing I know about life, it’s that it has a way of knowing what’s best for you, and no matter the situation, it always sprinkles a little beauty in places if you are looking.
So this week, as my baby lingers in these last days of early babyhood before the big ONE, I am making a pledge to linger a little bit as well. To savor all that’s left and drink every last drop of it. I’ll wait for your unintended perfect little moments, Life. Send me something good.