Monday, March 24, 2008

Living without instructions

Since I could read I've been ignoring the instructions on everything from tests to owner's manuals to knitting patterns. I like to do things my own way, or as we say in my house I like "my experiments". Most of my experiments are born from someone's instructions or recipe. I have some ingredients or materials and I don't' know what to do with them, so I hit the Google and find out what other people have done with yarn or apples or spelt flour.

Without trying to sound smug, most of my experiments are successful, especially the kitchen experiments. My partner might disagree, but he also goobled up the whole grain chocolate chip cookies I made with whole wheat and spelt flour this weekend. But really its hard to mess up a cookie. It is not difficult to mess up apple crisp; although prior to my attempts to go my own way I would have thought it foolproof. I believe there were four failures over a couple years before I made the "best apple crisp ever" (his words, not mine). That superior crisp started as a recipe in my slow cooking cookbook, but I didn't have enough apples so I halved all the ingredients. I also added maple syrup (one of my secret ingredients) and probably a couple of my other secret spices. The result is not purely my own invention, more my interpretation of apple crisp.

My interpretations of felt puppets (see above) and blankets have had various results. But the end product is secondary to me. I am in it for the experience and the thrill of doing something my way. I have always learned better when I do it myself, and frankly its more fun. If I choose to look deeper I think I ignore the instructions because I'm afraid to fully commit myself to the project. If an "experiment" fails, well it was a learning experience. If a serious undertaking fails, well, its a failure. I'm a failure. Plus, if I succeed and do create the "best ___ ever", well then I'm obviously a creative genius. I never said I was logical, just creative.

I look at my whole life as an experiment. I read and learn from others and then stride out on my own. Sometimes I take the road most traveled, and sometimes I get my machete and blaze my own trail. I have wasted lots of yarn, money, apples and hours on my experiments. But I have also lived a fantastic life full of adventures and pleasures that were worth every single heartbreak and burned thumb. And have eaten some damn fine meals.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.