This guest post is written by Bethany Morton-Rhye and is the final in the TEDx series leading up to TEDxSpartanburg on Saturday (so exciting!).
Last Sunday, a friend called while standing in the aisle of a grocery store. Inspired to make a “Shepherd’s Pie,” he needed a recipe. “I’ll ‘Google’ it,” I said, but, on second thought, decided instead to look it up in my copy of The Joy of Cooking. Pages 718-719, Shepherd’s Pie. The joy of cooking. Cooking is a joy.
I dictated the list of ingredients and cooking instructions to him. Once the potatoes are cooked and mashed, add butter, salt, pepper and … “Beat with a wooden spoon until fluffy.” I laughed out loud. To think you could “beat” something to the point that it’s “fluffy.” Inspiration comes from the most curious places.
“To beat”: this verb is powerful. The excerpt from the dictionary below only contains the first meaning…the list goes on and on. Negative thoughts enter my mind first when I ponder the verb “to beat.”
v. beat, beat·en (btn) or beat, beat·ing, beats
a. To strike repeatedly.
b. To subject to repeated beatings or physical abuse; batter.
c. To punish by hitting or whipping; flog.
“Fluffy”: this adjective is non-threatening. Who doesn’t love a little fluff? Positive thoughts enter my mind first when I ponder the adjective “fluffy.”
adj. fluff·i·er, fluff·i·est
a. Of, relating to, or resembling fluff.
b. Covered with fluff.
2. Light and airy; soft.
a. Light or frivolous.
b. Lacking depth or precision; fuzzy
If we can beat potatoes to the point of fluff, what else in life can we do that to?
I’m thinking that potatoes can be a metaphor for some of life’s problems and we can beat them until they are non-threatening fluff. Many of our “perceived” problems in life are self-induced, fueled by negative thinking and the unkind conversations we have with ourselves. We are also beaten down by the negativity of the world around us: unkind people, unkind media, unkindness.
Back to finding joy. Simply looking up a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie brought me immense joy. My copy of the book was a Christmas gift from my Mother in 1997. That Christmas, I gave her a copy as well. Mother and daughter gave each other the same gifts: a cookbook, and joy. We each wrote a note to each other on the inside. I read what I she wrote to me back in 1997.
“Christmas 1997… To Bethany, With Love & Joy. May you enjoy this book as much as I do (and have). Love, Mom”
Coincidentally, this past weekend, I traveled to visit my Mom. We both needed to feel each other’s joy as we have both been experiencing some difficult challenges in our lives. I got her copy of the Joy of Cooking, the one I had given her, down off the shelf and read what I wrote to her back in 1997.
“Merry Christmas 1997!… Hope this book brings you, and all those you feed, much ‘JOY’! I love you and thank you for all of the nutritional knowledge and habits which you instilled in me! I LOVE YOU – Bethany.”
What joy! A precious time-capsule of joy! Had I simply defaulted to looking up that recipe on the internet, I would have missed this moment to revisit a simple joy from my past.
Inspiration comes from so many places when we allow ourselves to be open to it. Revisiting small joys of the past, listening to the voices of our present, and being open to the possibilities of the future can help add to our wooden spoon collection.
If the humble pages of the Joy of Cooking contain inspiration to find the joy in life, what other seemingly insignificant things can too?
As we anticipate the TEDxSpartanburg Event: Together Creating a New Vision, coming up this Saturday, I anticipate being educated and inspired by listening to others. More wooden spoons for my collection. What can we “beat until fluffy” together to create a new vision for ourselves, our local community, and beyond?
Life beats us down. We beat ourselves up. We are beaten. We are beat. Where is my wooden spoon?