Recently I have been trying to master a new skill. Ok, so really I have been trying to get better at something with the least amount of maiming to my body, which if you know me is no easy task. I have a lot of real estate that is maimable and I am a terrible driver. It doesn’t matter if I am driving a car, shopping cart or just hauling my 6’1”, 36-inseam/wingspan, red-headed self across an empty room. All the above is fraught with peril for a girl like me. That being said, I have a lot of scars, inside and out they are my collection of memories, my road map of learning and living.
My new challenge is learning how to pan flip food like the chefs do when they are cooking. They tilt the pan and do a wrist jerk and all the goodies simmering in hot oil do a somersault, flip to the other less cooked side. They even sip wine while doing it, not on TV mind you but in my head they are always holding a glass of wine and chatting with George Clooney. Ok you already know way too much about my very rich inner life, which needless to say means I am never bored in meetings. Anyone who has a small child, is a cautious person or is smarter than a box of rocks can see trouble with this scenario sans George. For the rocks I will spell it out: hot oil, flipping food, wine and me is a Breaking Bad combination, not a ER type of bad but enough to spark trouble.
So there I am one Sunday, I have a pan full of mushrooms, onions and peppers all sizzling along with a nice French rosé in my hand. It is warm so the back kitchen door is open and the ceiling fan is going because I am cooking and there is a fire alarm in my apartment. It is always prudent to pair cooking and ceiling fans in my house. I am listening to some old jazz and decide it’s time to learn to flip food. The pan tilt was the first thing I mastered sliding the veggies to the front of the pan and then proceeded to wrist flip and pull back on the pan. I was thrilled how smoothly and easily all the little vegetables complied with the program. Everyone did as I wished and sizzled way in a new and improved cooking position. Go veg! I started practicing adjusting the height of the vegetables mid-flip and the pan tilt; I got increasingly enthusiastic and a bit cocky looking back. On one particular aggressive flip there were a few veggies that went rogue one of which hit my bare foot. Yeow!
Having problems with hot oil while cooking with bare feet was not something that had occurred to me, perhaps my heavily tinted rosé colored glasses were involved? I dropped the pan down on the burner and bent down flicking the burning bastard of a mushroom off my foot, which hurt like hell. I thought briefly of spitting a medicinal mouthful of wine on the burn but thought better of it and saw the greater healing would happen with it on the inside so I swallowed. Splashing some water on the spot I continued cooking. My foot continued to really hurt for the next minute or two with no let up. I thought jeez I am such a baby I feel like I need to take another sip and walk it off metaphorically. So I pulled my big girl skirt out my back pocket and manned up to the pain. It still hurt a lot a minute or two later and something in my amygdala or lizard brain was yelling. It told this box of rocks to look closer at my foot to really take a minute and scan my now red and soon to bubble burn. There next to the red spot was a translucent piece of onion still sizzling away on my foot. Fuckity Fuck Me. I flicked the offender away with disgust and got out an ice cube and turned the burner down a little with a heavy sigh.
I finished making dinner without further incident, which was delicious by the way thanks for asking. Within the hour the place where the mushroom hit me was pink, the place where the tricky translucent onion lay was a giant blister. It healed over the next 3-4 weeks, giving me time to think about what I learned from this adventure. Yes wine, open flame and hot oil is the obvious cautionary tale but there was much more there. I now had a new scar on the top of my right foot to match a pair I acquired on the top of each foot years ago in another sort of learning adventure. Those make me smile every time I look at them thinking how reckless and fun learning can be. This is no different. Remembering the scar from surgery on my back reminds me how strong I am, and how flexible and loved. Each scar no matter how small, smooth, pale, or even jagged tells a story of living. Of being fearless, silly, strong, willful any number of things that add to the composite of who I am. They don’t define me, as a roadmap does not do a journey justice; it is just high level data. My scars are sign posts, points of interest and reminders of where I have been.
Even the ones on the inside, the ones on my heart and in my head from unkind words or no words at all, though almost invisible to the eye if ignored, like the translucent onion, burn deeper and take longer to heal. But they do and are incredibly valuable to the journey, to my learning and living a full rich life. To build skills to be better at something I have to allow myself to be bad, to make mistakes and create a little bit of chaos. Sometimes a lot of chaos but that is okay I get to do with my life as I choose trying my best not to inflict my crazy in a hurtful way on any innocent bystanders. So I am asking you to maybe think about taking note of your sign posts, your journey, your learning. If when you look you don’t have any scars you might want to either look closer or take off the shrink-wrap. We don’t get points for being perfectly preserved at the end game. Think back to a beloved toy you had as a child or perhaps your own child’s favorite toy. What does it look like? It is usually frayed, bedraggled, stained, scared, been broken, ripped and mended over and over… and oh yea much loved.