Life is Like Making a Box of Chocolates by James Johonnott

04/04/2012 - 10:57

Life is Like Making a Box of Chocolates

James Johonnott

Undergraduate/Creative Writing

The way we see the world is shaped by what we are skilled at, interested in, and value. A couple of weeks ago I explained how life is like writing or reading a story. I mentioned at the end that I would explain why and how life is also like cooking and specifically baking. I’m actually going to expand on the concept a little bit.

When I say “cooking” I do not mean heating up dried noodles in the microwave. However, let’s assume one takes the next step up: they open a cook book and drive to a grocery store. This is ambitious when new. A first foray into actual cooking, even while still staying strictly to the recipe, can be frightening. Differentiating between certain actions and ingredients can be a daunting challenge and only gets easier with the nuance granted by experience. And, even when it’s done, it’s easy to second guess oneself because you don’t necessarily know what it’s supposed to look or taste like.

But what about when you go off-script? When you make something new? Where almost all other things are either a science or an art, cooking is both simultaneously. It is exploration of things that are already known and discovery of things that aren’t. It is as much risk-taking as it is risk-management. You could say a cook needs a balance between safety and daring.

Life is, in many facets, similar. The balance between safety and daring is key to maintaining a stable life. Following the recipe, or the routine, is easy and safe. You know you won’t get in trouble, risk losing anything, or set the stove on fire. But, if you don’t take risks in life or in the kitchen you’ll never know what might have been. Sure, sometimes you’ll crash and burn or end up with a foul taste. In fact in cooking it happens a lot. But that’s no reason to not try. In fact, it’s all the reason to try. The difference is that in life you have to live with wondering about maybes, when in cooking you can just try something else. Maybes can weigh heavier on us than our personal relationships or our materialism because they’re all the directions our life can, or could have gone. I hear all the time “I wish I could tell a younger me…” But, we don’t get that luxury. All of the nuance we pick up through life experience would be great years ago to help us get out of certain messes but then that would prevent us from earning that experience in the first place. If I knew what I know now about cooking, I wouldn’t have ruined one of my mom’s pans in middle school. Don’t carry those maybes around with you. Go off-script and try to create something new. Set the stove on fire; just don’t do it on purpose.

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