The Truth of the Matter

by jill on March 16, 2012


Sometimes we find a nugget of our true selves tucked away in an unlikely place.  Something so small – insignificant on the surface, really – that au fond reveals Who We Are.  Regardless of where we try to stuff ourselves – into whatever box, whatever role, or with whatever expectation – the truth of us always slips out somewhere.

I used work as an actuary, a long time ago.  If you don’t know what that is, look it up.  It’s in the dictionary right next to the definition of math geek, which I am. They say that an actuary makes an accountant look like they have a sense of humor.  No offense to either profession – before I was an actuary, I took accounting classes.  But I think I can be rather funny on some occasions, even ones that don’t include alcohol.

But I have cooked longer than I’ve been a math geek, starting at age thirteen in my mother’s catering business.  Why I didn’t make food my job and my business when I loved it so much….well, I was raised in New England, I’m an oldest daughter, and you’re supposed to find a sensible job, with regular hours, that justifies the fortune you (or your parents) just spent on that small new England college.  This was the 1980s after all.  Cooking wasn’t that job.  It’s not that I rejected it, nor did my parents deny me the opportunity, it just never occurred to me that it could be work – it was just too satisfying.  Ironic, since Food is now a cool job, and very It.

I saw that personal truth peeking out the other day when I came across a notebook that I had used for an actuarial exam class.  I flipped through the pages, chuckling at equations that I could never solve now, and then I turned to the back page.  It was always my habit to dutifully record notes on a class topic, but then use the back pages for what was really going on my head.  It’s where to find all the good stuff.  It’s where to see Me peeking out.

So this is what I was supposed to be studying in class.

And this delight.

And what was on the back page? What really engaged my brain?  Dinner party guest list ideas, musings on roasting tomatillos for a salsa, numerous recipes I wanted to try, two grocery lists, an address for an Indian grocer, a cookbook title on my wish list, and a note to try a curry soup recipe with both zucchini and summer squash to taste the difference.   And that was on only the top third of the page.  The rest of the page continued in the same vein.  You can’t help who you are.

So when you flip past the pages of YOUR shoulds, what do your back pages say?

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