With all the chopping of vegetables and washing of dishes, cooking gives me a lot of time to think. Lately, I’ve been considering why I have the tendency (to be kind to myself) to turn a given situation into a problem.
I do this more often than not. Last year, we had trouble sleeping because our youngest would wake at the creak of a floorboard. The logical solution (other than moving to a sturdier, roomier residence than our floor-through apartment) was to get a white-noise machine. It took me weeks to actually buy one as I muddled over the possible drawbacks. I needed a new computer for a project I wanted to start. Again, it took me months to make the purchase. Why? Because all I could see was what might go wrong, not what might go right. (For the record, the noise machine turned our apartment into a virtual duplex, and the computer helped me complete the project in a timely fashion—in other words, I was wrong on all accounts).
I don’t have a good answer yet for why I engage in this kind of thinking. But I am attempting to change my behavior. Instead of looking at things as problems, I’m trying to see them as opportunities.
Out of limes for the Vietnamese Chicken Salad you wanted to make this morning? Not a problem, but an opportunity (in this case, to send the spouse to the store to pick them up, along with half-a-dozen other things the house needed).
The salad turned out just as delicious as the week before, and a funny thing happened while I was eating it for lunch. I was reading the dining section of the New York Times. Right there in front of me there was an article about a Thai restaurant in upstate New York, accompanied by a recipe for a chicken dish that was similar to what I was eating. Making this comparison is like saying Miles Davis and I both once played the trumpet (which is true, in one sense and completely misleading in another). Like mine, the Times’s recipe had chicken and lime juice but it was much more complicated. It involves things like roasted rice paste and Laoatian chili power, all of which are things I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to explore.