I like new things and new situations: I find them exciting. Being out of my element sharpens my awareness so that there's a freshness and vitality to everything I encounter. I'm especially noticing this in my new kitchen, a lovely room in the back of my Berkeley housesit that features an enormous amount of satin-smooth butcher block counter space and a stained glass window that glows with the setting sun. Last night I cooked my first real meal here and it was awkward. I didn't know the stove very well or where things were located and I hopped about from one end of the kitchen to the other which was a little exhausting since this kitchen is easily 5 times larger than the one I left in San Francisco. I was a tenderfoot about breakage and the proper use of things. What if I scorched a pot or stained the counter tops? Still, it was a delightful experience, full of the sense of possibility and discovery that a new situation brings.
While familiarity is efficient and comforting, in someways it can dull our senses and feed us assumptions about who we are and what we are capable of. A new situation always has a bit of a challenge that energizes us and sparks our imagination. We look at everything with the eyes of wonder, full of questions and spirit. What would it be like to approach all of our circumstances, new or old, in this way?
Eventually, I will find my way around this kitchen and it will grow familiar. I'll remember where the measuring spoons are kept and how to work the broiler. My body will know just how to round the corner into the pantry without bumping into the doorframe and I'll maybe even summon up the courage to use the dishwasher. But since this is a summer housesit, I'll probably not get too settled here. Instead I'll perch somewhere in between, not quite at home but not quite a stranger either, fully engaged and curious, and hopefully ready, when it's time, to move on to the next thing.
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(Image: Dana Velden)