Seeing Choices in the Midst of Life Eruptions
"I discovered I always have choices and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude.”
~ Judith M. Knowlton
“You should’ve seen the drama last night,” I exclaimed, “it was like something out of a bad chemistry lab class, LOL.” I woke up this morning texting my daughter about my adventure in cooking last night.
I consider myself a pretty seasoned cook in the kitchen, even creative when it comes to developing a delicious new dessert or main entree. Last night, I thought I would try my hand at making a caramel sauce from scratch, something that I had never done before. After looking over several recipes, I found one that got many 5-star reviews. I looked over the instructions, rereading them a few more times to make sure I understood the steps involved. Having made many flans over the years (which involves caramelizing the pan), I knew that getting the sugar boiled to the right color was key… too long and it was burnt.
I started off pretty confidently, watching a Netflix movie while the sugar cooked. Time passed and it seemed to take longer than usual for the sugar to turn color, but I figured this was normal since I had no experience with this recipe. What I hadn’t noticed though was that smoke was filling the room, yikes! I checked the sugar, still not a lot of color, but I figured with all the smoke, surely the mix was ready for the addition of cream.
I turned off the heat and started to pour in the cream. Immediately, the mixture exploded!
Gasp, sauce everywhere!!!
It was like watching one of those volcano experiments kids do for school. In the name of science, I would give the pour a second try… perhaps I had poured the cream in too fast. I tried slowly adding the cream and…poof! Same thing, a smaller explosion (another gasp). To top it off, when the mixture cooled, it not only looked bad but it tasted awful. I was stunned, things like this seldom happened to me in the kitchen. What more an eruption of the volcanic-kind was unheard of. Yet, the experience, however humbling, reminded me about how things can erupt in our own lives. Like dashed expectations when things don’t happen the way we thought they would or we didn’t quite get the outcome we were working on. Or like the present, living day to day in the unpredictability of a pandemic. The eruptions we experience can completely unhinge us, making us feel our vulnerability and powerlessness.
It may seem like there are few to no choices available. Sometimes we see viable choices only in terms of damage control, calculated risks or predictable results. Or we may choose not to exercise any choice at all.
Yet how often do we tend to the heart and soul in that moment? To what extent do we consider our choices in terms of an expression of love for ourselves?
Yesterday, I could’ve chosen to beat myself up over the mess that I created. I have after all, developed a harsh inner critic that is all too willing to berate me for my mistakes and mishaps in life.
I could’ve also chosen to blame the cook who posted that cursed recipe, even writing a bad review, citing faulty instructions and bad taste. Blame and shame are cultural norms that I have learned well and integrated into my psyche, especially if I don’t want to take responsibility for a mess that I’ve made.
I could’ve complained to myself about how stupid this all was, how it was such a waste of time, and so on as I went about cleaning the kitchen. Expressing entitlement is a display of privilege, one that I can use at my choosing because of status.
So how to respond?
After all was said and done, I gave thanks for the minor eruption in my kitchen. I could see that things got a much needed deep clean. But so too, the eruptions in my life have always been wake up calls for me to pause and explore the clearing needed from within. In those moments, when we are feeling exacerbated, exhausted and lost, it is the choices finding voice from within that will serve you best. And when in doubt, ask yourself
“What is the most loving thing I could do for myself in this moment?”
So what did I choose? I chose to just laugh at the whole darn experience, giving myself the space to write “Lol” as I retell the story.
Choose the choice that loves you… choose you.