Sometimes I am struck by the sheer physicality of cooking. I know this is an obvious statement but it's one of those things that's so obvious, I forget to appreciate it most of the time. But after sitting at the computer for hours on end, my body achy and unused, my head all tangled up with words and ideas and concepts, it feels really good to lift and bend and stretch around in the kitchen. It feels good to be solidly in the physical world.I love the Internet and how it can bring the Everything into my tiny life, how it allows me to meander and discover and learn and share. But after spending an entire day just looking at and thinking about things, I've found it's important to involve myself in something tangible. I want to engage my other senses and to hold something in my hands, to feel its heft and texture. In the end, it doesn't matter how pretty that Instagramed photo of an apple is. What I want is to hold a real apple in my hands, to feel and hear its crunch when I bite into it.
This is also true of life in the larger sense. There's the thinking, and then there's the doing. Our understanding of and relationship to something only deepens when we have an actual, physical encounter with it. This is of course somewhat dangerous, as this encounter can potentially change our ideas and assumptions, but it's also enormously useful. Reading a recipe for a chocolate layer cake will only tell us so much. Actually making the chocolate layer cake will show us infinitely more, not only about how to make it, but how to eat it, and how to share it, and how to store it away for later.
Of course, the physical world has its challenges. As mentioned, it's dangerous and uncontrollable and you will for sure get your hands dirty. But it also offers a bright, particular kind of pleasure that comes from by simply being alive and engaged in creating something. Some people run, some people throw clay pots or work in the garden. And some people cook.
So I say dig into the physical world today. Stop thinking and evaluating and judging and just roll up your sleeves and do something. Learn the lessons that come when your body and your senses interact with something outside of yourself. Discover what's on the other side of your ideas about something. And be sure to get your hands dirty. Really, really dirty.
Related: Weekend Meditation: The Right Way
(Image: Dana Velden)