Matt and I had a great Saturday yesterday. His schedule for the past week had been such that he and I had spent no time together. So, we went out for breakfast, took a nap, watched one of our favorite movies (“The Bourne Identity”) and did a little Christmas shopping (for ourselves). Matt also planned dinner by preparing a stew in the crock pot — it simmered all day, filling the house with great smells.
The stew was really good. We, like most families, especially two-member families, often find it easier to grab a bowl of cereal, a sandwich, etc., then to go to the trouble of cooking a full meal. Thus, when one of us do cook, it is a special treat.
The only small complaint that we both had about the stew was that there was too much garlic in it. Garlic is like a lot of things in life — a little bit is good, a lot of it is deadly. And there is a thin line between “right amount” and “too much”. This is true for M&Ms, vodka, ice cream, and “Beverly Hills 90210” reruns. First-hand experience with garlic is essential when cooking.
I will never forget my first real cooking experience with garlic. Like many people, it was only after graduating from college that I was forced to cook for myself (or others). I discovered recipes — what a great invention — a how-to for creating a dish. Cooking wasn’t that hard — why did people complain?? Get your ingredients, add this, stir in that, bake at this temperature, et voila. Supper.
Thus, I decided to try lasagna. Since I had been so successful with earlier recipes, I wanted to try a complicated lasagna dish, or at least more complicated recipe than what I had grown up with — hamburger, noodles, ricotta cheese, spaghetti sauce. I picked out a recipe that called for Italian sausage, where the sauce wasn’t from a jar but made from scratch, where there were three or four different kinds of cheese. I was ready to turn it on for the lasagna.
Everything seemed to be going well until it came time to add the minced garlic. The recipe called for 3 cloves of minced garlic (I remember the exact amount 15 years later). I had purchased the prepackaged jars of minced garlic instead of mincing my own (I may have wanted to try something more complicated, but I didn’t want to do more work than absolutely necessary). I added the required amount of garlic. Five minutes later, I thought the wallpaper was going to start peeling off the walls.
Through the tears streaming down my eyes, I tried to discover why the fumes were almost visible in the house. Rereading the recipe and then the jars of garlic, I realized my error. One clove of garlic was equal to 1/2 tablespoon of the minced garlic from the jar. I had misread the jar and thought that 1 clove of garlic was equal to 1 jar. So, three jars of minced garlic had gone into my lasagna. I estimate it to be about 167 cloves of garlic.
We did not eat lasagna that night. We could barely live in the house for the next week. I learned to read, reread and often have someone else read the “this amount equals this amount” directions on any jar of ingredients. And I don’t eat anything that makes my eyes water (or repels vampires, zombies, inferior friends).
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to sit down and put down any thoughts. A whirlwind of activities and events have been taking place around me, and sometimes I have literally felt that I have been observing the proceedings rather than actively engaging (or directing) them.
The lack of control (or the perception that I lack the control) has colored much of my life and played an important part in my outlook, attitude and mental health most of my thirty-ahem-odd years. It’s amazing how anxious and nervous and rattled we humans become when we don’t feel like we have the answer, the we know the outcome, that we’re prepared for the unexpected.
I recently read a daily devotional that described how flying and surgery are two of the few times that people knowingly and willingly give up all control — we board a plane / lay on a operating table, buckle our seat belt / close our eyes, and allow the pilot to lift us off the ground / anesthesiologist to put us to sleep and the surgeon to cut us open. And we have little to no say in how they perform those tasks.
I have a hard time letting go, letting the chips fall, saying que sera sera. There is so much that is, well frankly, just scary out there. Yet, my powers aren’t super and my knowledge is omniscent. I’m vulnerable and prone to make errors. So, what is the answer?
I’m not sure. It’s as simple as that. I don’t know, but I’ve made it thirty-ahem-some years without screwing it up too badly. I think that some of it is not taking yourself too seriously. I think some of it is leaning on your family and friends when you need help (and when you don’t). Some of comes down to (as Tracy Jordan from “30 Rock” said) “Live every week like it’s Shark Week.” I’m pretty sure 100% of it is trusting in the Lord.
There is a song by the Indigo Girls in which the question is asked in the chorus “What would you give for your childhood fears?” I’ve thought about that question a lot over the years — what did I fear when I was young? My friends not being my friends any more; Mom and Dad being mad at me; not getting the “cool” pair of jeans or sneakers? In retrospect, those seem like such silly, small fears that who wouldn’t trade their scary, adult fears (mortgages, lay-offs, divorces, addictions, etc.) for their childhood fears. But I wouldn’t. I think that I’m better equipped now to handle my big, scary adult fears.
So, I’m feeling a little out of control. Lord, before You take this plane off and perform my surgery (cause I’m putting this into Your hands), could I get a drink, an insurance policy and a hug?