Recently, I attended a pickling workshop taught by a woman from Bangladesh. With her heavily accented English and her old world love for cooking and feeding people, she stands out in a world too busy and too distracted to cook, to spend time with family, or to slow down over what truly satisfies. Her matter of fact and intuitive cooking style was inspirational and authentic; devoid of pretense, expert mentality, or showmanship.
So I guess it should have come as no surprise that, though she had conveyed measurements and ingredient lists to our host who had then gone on to make up recipe sheets, what was on the paper and how she was actually cooking didn’t quite line up. It quickly became clear that she did not cook by numbers. Ever. She was just not a measuring cup, by the book, kind of woman. So much so, that it became kind of a running joke throughout the night about how often what she was actually doing differed from what was on the sheet, with at least one of us asking, “Wait, what did she just do? How much of that did she put in?”
Each time this happened she would sweetly smile and offer up a little shrug. And at one point, really more to herself than to us, she simply stated, “I believe in my hands.” My God, what a concept. What a life instruction in a world too often driven by a “paint by number” mentality; right and wrong according to some external measurement. Some thing or some one else’s version other than our own.
I believe in my hands says I believe in myself. I believe in what I sense and feel. It says I believe in my experience and I believe in something other than what the outside dictates. It says I believe in what nourishes and sustains, and that as sure as these are my hands, this is what I hold to, and this is what I find most dear.
How many of us no longer make the time to cultivate this type of knowing? A knowing, gained through and transcendent of, a specific skill set. Confidence created through the learning, the time spent, and the actual doing. A belief system and an experience of self-trust born out of learning a set of valuable life skills. An approach that truly satisfies and feeds the life of a human being. As well as those they come in contact with.
And how many of our children will never be given a chance to know this kind of experience? A way of being that can only be mastered by actually inhabiting the day to day requirements of the life of a human being. A kind of knowing that can only come from offering yourself up to something with love. A way of life that can only be had over years and years of devoting yourself to something truly worthwhile. And in the end, a way of inhabiting ourselves from the inside out; developing the kind of inner authority necessary for a life well lived and for valuable contributions made.
A kind of knowing, by the way, that will never, ever, come out of a life squeezed off because of modern day busyness requirements or preferences for a screen.
When we are considering all that the screen technologies, along with the demands of keeping up, are offering to us and our children, can we also remember to consider what is being lost? All of the things that will never show up on a report card, which school you got into, what job you get, or what gets measured in a research study, simply because we did not know, or remember, to include them? And because there are just some things, the most important things, that can never be measured by an outside source, or ever known through our recently screen-obsessed myopic focus on what we are making most important in the living of our lives.
What do you believe in? What do we want our children to believe in? Do our day to day choices reflect these vital and necessary beliefs? Or are we living and teaching belief systems based on an inhumane pace along with lives filled to the brim with what is most decidedly not human? Not nourishing. Not the recipe for a life well-lived.