It is 4:00 am and I am drinking my first cup of morning brew. This morning the bean is Double Chocolate. I picked it up last week at a small store in Farmington, Maine called “Upfront and Pleasant”. Nina, the store owner, carries gourmet delicacies, some local flavors, and a nice assortment of wines. It isn’t just the offerings of food stuff that draws me and other patrons. It is the cheery inquiry as to how you are doing, the offer of coffee while you shop, and the occasional time to chat. This morning my recent selection keeps company with me as I type away and anticipate the cawing of the crows who have made it their habit to awaken me at dawn. I’m beating them to the punch this morning. I don’t think they will notice.
I was awake most of the night thinking about the world issues on which I’ve chosen to work, with the intent to educate and inspire change. It was a night of wondering if I make a positive difference in the world through what I write and speak. This is not the first time I have had doubts. I suspect it will not be the last. I could close my heart and eyes; stay secluded and not bother with thoughts of human trafficking, caregiving or food access, but so doing would not be true to my character and passion for living. I cannot imagine living dispassionately and apathetically. I cannot imagine turning a blind eye to man’s inhumanity against man and not continuing to share the message of unconditional love.
As it is with writers, as I begin, I don’t know where my writing will take me or the reader. What will I create from thoughts wanting to find their place? Creating the perfect recipe for a reader to enjoy is an ongoing experiment. I pause and reach for another slurp of java from my porcelain mug, as an excuse to settle on my thoughts, just as the warm beverage settles on my palate. I contemplate the process of making the day’s pot of coffee with the essential ingredient being the perfect bean, in perfect proportion. I reflect, not for the first time, that life is based on a recipe, but presently wonder, if as with the coffee bean, there is an essential ingredient with perfect proportion.
My grandmother passed down a peanut butter cookie recipe to her daughter, who in turn passed it down to her sons and daughters. This daughter has passed it on to her offspring. The recipe has a secret, essential ingredient. I’m pretty sure it’s still a secret because it carried the penalty of death for divulging it. She’s been gone about 35 years, but she’d still know. As set out by her own writing, her version of perfect proportion was a “pinch of this” a “dash of that” and “the size of an egg”. The recipe ends with “Bake until done”. Her culinary skills were so refined these simple directions were enough. Not long ago, I added my own special ingredient to this recipe. As I mixed the dough, it was the first time I thought about life’s recipe. We begin with the same basic ingredients. We refine the recipe and make it our own with other ingredients we choose; the way we measure (or not) and mix; and sometimes, even how long it will bake.
I spent the first decades of my life mixing common ingredients — play, education, marriage, and family —carefully measuring and not changing much. I was unaware at the time, that I was creating my own gourmet recipe. I now add “pinches of this” and “dashes of that” from experiences I’ve had on my journey. I’ve discovered that while there are no perfect amounts of each, there are essential ingredients like unconditional love and the value of caring and making time for other people.
I have learned, like all good recipes, life allows room for improvements and changes. We are each perfectly imperfect. The ingredients in our life recipe and how much of each will determine our results and like a freshly baked batch of cookies will bring new days which are tolerable to the palette or better. For now, my ingredients will stay pretty much the same, but the amount of each will continue to vary, as I continue to focus my energies on those things that help people move forward. Bake until done.