Sometimes lethargy reaches long fingers into our weekends. Sometimes we’ve spent three or four days at camp, working and walking and keeping Erik busy and ourselves being kept busy that when we get back to the house on Galileo Drive we just get too comfortable on the couch for too long while little E chases matchbox cars in giggling circles and makes toddling forays down the hall.
Sometimes shame piggybacks on laziness until not doing anything becomes a fear of doing anything. It might just be me, I know. But after months of not cooking meals and inventing recipes for our family I get nervous in the kitchen. What odds and ends do we have in the house? Is there protein around? How do I season this dish? Google and I are good friends.
And then yesterday when I was in the kitchen throwing the odds and ends we had in the house into a deep skillet, the lethargy slipped off. I shook my shoulders free and sprinkled soy sauce liberally, garlic less liberally, ginger most tentatively of all. Maybe I put too much turmeric and olive oil in the cauliflower rice that turned yellow but I served it up anyway, trying not to make self-deprecating excuses to hide behind.
Dinner was good. Grant and I made wow faces at each other, sampling the shredded chicken and veggies over the yellowed rice. It was really, really good. Well credit to Google; I just threw together what was in the house and looked up how to season it, I shrugged. No, credit to you, Grant said directly, You cooked this.
I did cook it. In fact I’ve cooked a lot of good meals over the last year. Who cares if they were mostly from cookbooks or online recipes: they’re still my work. I swirled my wine in my glass, feeling more at home in the goosebump-cool evening air than I did with my own thoughts. I can… cook. I sit with the realization for a few moments, trying to make it sink in. My years of trying to put together meals and studying different ways of eating – Paleo, sugar-free, gluten-free, Whole30 – those practice meals and experimental dishes have paid off. I can throw together a good meal.
I’m not a virtuoso cook or anything. Somebody else would have put those odds and ends together faster or seasoned them just a little bit better. But honestly, I think it’s ok to acknowledge the thing well done because it helps me throw off shame.
My goal is real humility, not just yummy stir fry. But I believe humility is way more closely related to the intersection of confidence and selflessness than it is to shame. Shame is who I’ve hung out with for years but I’m over it like a needy romantic in a comedy who’s really, truly trying to be over it and finally breaks free in the happy kissing-in-the-rain scene at the end.
So feel free to acknowledge your success. Don’t let shame convince you that you can’t cook, that this aromatic dish sitting on the table owes you no credit. And once you’ve realized you have some skill in something after all, shape your confidence towards selflessness. Cook for others – invite them to your table. Nourish their bodies with your food and their souls with your listening. These words are my own dream too.