I’m spending this week with grandchild #10. His parents have moved into town and left. (Just for the week.) I have custody during the days, and the other grandparents have him at night. I think this is a very fair deal. He’s napping now, so I get to write. Also a fair deal.
At the playground earlier, it came to me that this is a very good way to renew myself at this time of year, at this time of life. I wrote about this not so long ago here, of the ability of some to be ever amazed at the world, like a child. I was reminded of this while pushing our little one on the baby swing. He was so happy to go back and forth and back and forth…I tried to take him out after about 5 minutes, but he was visibly not ready to leave this. So I girded myself to push him for another 5 minutes or more. And he was agreeable when I tried the next time to take him out.
I realized at that moment that we make ourselves so complicated. And I thought about my still-full refrigerators with food prepared for the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah, followed by Shabbat. Of course, I try to re-purpose food, so that one food gets used in 3 different presentations.
The soup I made, for example, for Shabbat, was from the cold sweet potato-carrot-cauliflower soup from last week (un-frozen), mixed with the leftover tzimmis (carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and onions, but no meat for you!) from the first night, with red lentils cooked in. So that was a good way to repurpose things.
We had left our overhead fan on in the kitchen, even though, thankfully, it turned cool for the holidays, delightful, really. And when I set up the hot plate over my flame to keep it protected over Shabbat, I thought I was being smart in using my larger tray to protect the flame.
I was, but I was also outsmarting myself.
The soup turned.
The flame was not strong enough with the fan on. It didn’t keep the soup hot enough. I was worried about it and tested it before serving it to our guests.
What a waste of repurposing.
And the bigger thing that I knew?
No one missed the soup. They would have been miserable tasting it, but they didn’t miss it. I had too many other things going on, even in my no-meat house. Really, no one went hungry.
So something is wrong.
We’re too complicated for our own good.
Or maybe we’re too affluent? Insisting on having so many different things, or not wanting to take a chance of people not being happy?
I’m reading Daniel Akst’s book We Have Met the Enemy about the problem of “moderation in the face of freedom and affluence”. I got it out from the library, since I figured the book screams DON’T BUY SOMETHING YOU CAN BORROW! (although he may not have really considered that when writing the book).
He demonstrates how the one who shows us how to navigate through the world of wants is actually Odysseus, who had his sailors chain himself up to his mast to keep him from being lost to the sirens. He calls this precommitment. This, and many other useful facts and strategies, can be found in the book. I’m looking forward to trying them in my own life.
Am I ready to put this onto my guests, though?
What do you think?