Nothing Has To Be Perfect

A close friend of mine invited me to Seder, a Passover meal at her parent’s home a few years back. At the time, I didn’t have any plans so I said yes. When we sat at the table with her family, they told stories, discussed the stories, drank four cups of wine and ate Matza. Rachel’s mother served the first course. First there were dense, cold slippery globules of gefilte fish, not my favorite. I took a few bites and pushed my plate aside and asked while poking a roasted egg, “So what are these a symbol for?”

“Oh that,” said Rachel’s father. “It has something to do with the cycle of life. ”

Dinner was roasted chicken, served with a stew of carrots and prunes. These along with the matzoh ball soup, beef brisket, and a huge green salad, I was told was done by Rachel’s mother and her aunt Miri. Rachel’s contribution, was a sweet potato pudding, that she had been working all morning on. As I brought the first forkful to my mouth the air around Rachel suddenly took on an embarrassed silence. 

“Mmm,” I said. “delicious.” 

Horror-struck, Nichole took a bite. She managed a brave smile. Then she hung her head in dissapointment. Since I could remember, Rachel has always had difficulty in the kitchen. She’s made a lot of mistakes due to her impatience. Most of her efforts arrived with crumbled middles and missing ingredients. In this I think she saw a kind of resemblence in her life, having started out aspiring to write best-selling novels and short stories, to end up a struggling freelance writer. It seemed to her that she had left something out, or taken something out too soon.

If you think about it, the human animal is the ultimate adaptation machine. As a species we’ve picked the strategy of improvement of being able to learn something. Instead of coming out fully baked, we come out with the ability to be baked as you go down the path of something. While we’re going through this journey, first thing we try to figure out is, who am I? To answer this question you have to figure out who you’re not, to figure out who you are by the process of elimination.

I consider life to be a psychological game. It’s better to want something, then to need it. Once you need something, life tends to close the doors on you. Example, that girl you really want, or that job that you must have. Once people sense desperation, you tend to come across as being needy, and that only leaves the person thinking; why should I want you? You must not have anything to offer.

So this brings me to confidence and developing self-awareness. With so much room to be objective and to over analyze things, choose not to care about the outcome. Understand that needing puts you in a position to not be yourself. People can smell desperation and it’s a turn off. Like my friend Rachel, we don’t have to give too much credence to awareness on how we’re perceived by others. Social media has done a great job of killing most people’s confidence by few likes on a photo; this explains why people have become so shallow.

I believe that the best way to go through life is not caring about what people think. Learn to put in the work and stay true to yourself, without compromising who you are. Then when you’re done you can look back at the review, play back how things went and see for yourself how you did. But if you’re always thinking about the result too early, I don’t think you can enjoy your work, subjectively. 

So what if your pudding didn’t come out as expected, don’t worry about it. What matters is that you showed up and put the time and effort in.

I wonder what Rachel’s potato pudding is going to taste like next time?

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