Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Soup that Makes Up Yourself

1950's TV Dinner
 I ate a frozen dinner today that looked a little like this. I suppose the food itself was slightly less disgusting-looking than the 1950s version to the right, but the packaging was just as neat. Everything was politely divided--mushrooms, rice, tofu. Play nice, kids. No touching.

I got to thinking after I ate the frozen dinner after a particularly gooey yoga class: is that at all like human nature?
A friend posted that she'd reconnected with someone she grew up due to Facebook. For some reason, her post of gratitude for FB's powers of connection reminded me of soup. It's almost like those forgotten or shuffled-aside experiences are part of the soup that makes ourselves up. Sometimes, that pot of soup simmers away on the stove for so long, by the time you sit down to enjoy it, you forgot what was in there. You go back to the cupboard and remember: Maybe it was the old bottle of thyme you found on your mother's shelf. Rosemary taken off a neighbor's bush. Maybe it was the basil, picked fresh and chopped lovingly from the yard. Or, less elegantly, it was the expired teaspoon of Mrs. Dash seasoning salt.
Remarkably, the Mrs. Dash can actually blend with other ingredients that seem distinctly different. Simmer on the stove for a few hours, though, and it begins to really be something. And just try to take out the flavoring from a pot of soup (what do scientists call it? A chemical change?). It's not possible, because they've melded together to form something distinctly new.  
Soup... much closer to who we are, I think. A colleague asked me to do something today, and I was struck by the complexity of my response. There was an immediate desire to say yes. But I didn't think it would be best to do what she asked of me, so I also felt a sense of confusion: she wants me to do X, and I think X is wrong. And then guilt for knowing I'd say no and let her down. All of those feelings boiled up, surfacing simultaneously.

There just doesn't seem to be much of a dividing line. I am not inclined to use this blog as a platform for my views on hot-button issues, but when I hear about people rejoicing in the death of others I can't help but think of soup.
A line from Aleksandr Solzenitsyn:
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
He's right, I guess, especially in his desperate "If only it were so simple!" cry. If only we were TV dinners. We could just cut out the pathetic attempt at fried chicken and feast on mashed potatoes and succotash. But we're a little more like soup, I think... just try and fish out an ingredient of the soup that makes up yourself.


feralchick said...

Dang, girl, incredible post!

hannahjustbreathe said...

I just love how you weave together your metaphors. Quite lovely, lady. Quite lovely indeed.

thedancingj said...

I like this! I was just thinking about the same idea earlier this week. There are so many ingredients that go into our selves, and sometimes we don't even remember about the ones that we tossed into the pot back at the beginning. (Expired Mrs. Dash - love it.) There are skills that I learned as a waitress at Bertucci's that I now use as a Bikram teacher, and I don't even think about it. Great post! Nice - dare I say it? - food for thought.

Lala said...

*like* *like* *like*

that's all i gotta say. ok, that's a lie, i have lots to say.

great post. now time to mix up my tv-dinner-esque life a little. :)

Yolk E said...

Awww :-) I am totally undeserving.