I’m fascinated by NPR’s “This I Believe” program. Normally, I don’t care much about NPR or PBS because I try to avoid anything identifiably political, but the very existence of such a program ties in directly to some of what I believe. More specifically, it relates to my belief in the importance of creation.
We live in a society that makes it pretty easy and convenient to consume. I’m sure other societies are like that as well, but I only know about mine. But as Nick Offerman says in Paddle Your Own Canoe, true satisfaction comes from creating, and creating well. The summer of 2012, I learned to cook.
I’ve been cooking since I was eight, making quick lunches or snacks when I wasn’t at school and my parents weren’t home, or on regular cooking rotation while I was in the Boy Scouts, but that summer I learned how to actually cook. It was the first time since high school that I wasn’t working or taking classes, and I was living at home following my dad’s stroke. I’m sure he resented the grocery bills as much as the weird flavors and ingredients, but he was still supportive of my habit. I made dinner menus in cheap imitations of french and italian cuisine, copy flavor profiles from local mexican restaurants, and go to Matt’s house after a night at the bar to bake breads and pies while I stunk up his house with cigarette smoke.
I learned a lot of hard lessons that summer. I learned how expensive life is, especially when you’re trying to enjoy it. I learned how to manage a relationship, and how to handle getting dumped. But most importantly, I learned the difference between good and good enough, and it’s a difference that applies to everything people can make. My wilderness survival campers saw the difference between making a fire, and making a fire that will light fast and burn hot enough to cook on. My writing students get to see the difference between a writing that people can comprehend and writing that people want to read. Before that summer, I made food that wouldn’t kill anyone. Since that summer, I enjoy going in the kitchen to remind myself that I can make something great with a few ingredients, a blade, a little pressure, some time, and a lot of heat, and it makes me happy.
I believe everyone should learn to create something.