No Mud, No Lotus – Thich Nhat Hanh – Day 12

Transformation and Advent

December 15, 2020

Day 12

This morning started with a mishap in my kitchen. I had prepared a broth - in reserve - to make quick and healthy meals for myself in the coming days of the tightening lockdown.

I've been doing this every week for quite a good time now. And almost every week something went wrong: sometimes I added (valuable) ingredients in the wrong order and thus diluted the taste, sometimes I cooked too little and my Thai dish degenerated into a sticky unsightly and also not very tasty mush. The other time I only used part of the broth immediately for a - very tasty and successful - noodle dish and did not get around to using or freezing the rest of the broth. I could only throw away the spoiled rest.

My mother never really taught me to cook. I learned a lot from my older sister, who helped out in a large kitchen as a student and who has lived in France for over 30 years and who with her culinary skills makes a great contribution to German-French understanding.

But I learn most from my own experiences - the good and the bad. I could get upset now that at my age I am still not able to correctly estimate the capacity of a vessel - and I also hear some critical voices from my friends and family who stand by and shake their heads. Yes, this is frustrating and could have been avoided. To my apology, I can object that with my last move this summer I bought a completely new set of pots and pans - and have never cooked so regularly in such quantities as in this pandemic year in the home office.

But who should I apologize to? In front of my own inner critic - that doesn't help, he'll shake his head again the next day when he sees where the dust is lurking again, because I forgot to vacuum for all the cooking time.

Wherever there is planing, there are shavings: every productive activity includes moments in which things are not going well or which appear simply unpleasant, annoying, dirty, complicated, threatening. To sweeten these moments with positive thinking ("It'll be fine!") Is just as harmful as denying or degrading "dirty work" out of misunderstood ambition: "I'm efficient, I don't make any chips" - "That's below my capacities, I don't make my hands dirty ".

For example, both attitudes degrade the unvarnished confrontation with suffering and the hard work medical staff around the world are doing during the pandemic.

I really enjoy working - and I work a lot. These include activities that I definitely don't (always) like to do. But mostly I find myself in a flow in which I concentrate on what is happening right now - without judging it. And the result of my work makes me satisfied and grateful: grateful to expand my experience, to learn something and to grow beyond myself - and ideally to have added value for others. And I stay connected to myself and enjoy every moment.

I am now taking my neighbor out to lunch and enjoying my soup!