Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bread and the meaning of life

I baked bread yesterday, filled with fantasies that I would do it ALL THE TIME if I didn't have to bother with this pesky employment hoo-ha. Which reminded me of my karate instructor Larry, who is AWESOME, who told me that some famous thinker type said that if you bake bread every day for ten years you will understand the meaning of life.

And I was all, wha....?

But then I haven't forgotten it since, OF COURSE. I'm determined. Once I have the meaning of life, I can SELL it to a pharmaceutical company. And then quit my job and sit aroung all day counting my piles of gold coins. Right?

After baking bread every so often for a few years, here's what I have in my half-assed pursuit of the meaning of life, which I do on and off until I see an interesting bug crossing the sidewalk, and then I do that instead.

I think there's something in there about practice. Doing something every day you must get pretty good at it, no? Sticking with something and such. I'm not NECESSARILY the great authority on this particular topic.

And something about actually doing it. Because it turns out that me thinking that I will make bread does not actually produce a loaf of bread, despite my vivid imagination.

And something about staying attentive to the process without needing to control it. Because yesterday I forgot that my bread was rising and it went like an extra hour. Ooops! (Guess what? Didn't matter.)

But also something about mistakes. Because seriously? Homemade bread is pretty good, even the ooopses. It's all good. And for the real disasters, there is always French toast.

And then there's something about fellowship, because where would I be if I kept all of my flawed bread to myself? Headachey, thirsty, tired and full of guilt, that's what. But shared with people? The best. And they love it! And they adore you, just for a moment! She makes bread.

And I think there is also something about the physical stuff. Being present and letting yourself be soothed by a mindless task. Kneading bread by hand? The best.

And there is probably some deep lesson in cleaning up the slimy dough and flour afterwards, but I'm not there yet. Maybe something about cleaning up as you go.

And I'm probably missing the point entirely. Of life. Look, a bug!

15 comments:

smalltownmom said...

And the bread machine just doesn't give the same satisfaction.

Vanessa said...

Love the part about french toast! If you do figure out the secret to the clean up, you could sell that too. Can I put my order in now?

Rebekah said...

You WOULD post about bread today, when I'm on a temporary bread-free diet (because? I'm addicted and some days my meals are entirely bread+something, so I'm seeing if I can make my love of baked goods less...all).

Mmmmm...I would say that I know at least one baker who seems to have that meaning of life thing down. Your Larry is maybe on to something...

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

So many deep thoughts.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I think you are on to something, bug-watcher.

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

I can imagine myself doing this caught in deep thought, but then I would want to eat the results of it all by myself and not share ti with anyone, but slather it with butter and jam. I don't think I'll find the meaning of life that way.

Bea said...

Wow - what a great post. It almost makes me want to make bread myself - except now I don't have to - you've done all the work for me and now I can reap the benefits. Except for the bread itself. I don't have that. Is that the lesson I learn from not making bread?

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Give us this day your daily bread recipe.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I think bread is magic. Especially sourdough. Have you ever kept a sourdough culture? I did for about a month but then it got too dry, which I choose to blame on the climate here rather than on myself.

Anyway, flour + water + air makes a gooey sticky smelly sourdough culture. You mix some of the culture with more flour and maybe some sugar and butter and a few other things, and viola! Bread! FROM AIR.

Childlife said...

"Look a bug!" Hee Hee!

All I have to say is whoever made up that quote about bread sure never tried to make the gluten-free variety :P NOT fun times... I'm tellin' ya...

Give the resident cutie pie an extra hug today from my end of the world ;)

Carlosdc said...

Love your article Nora! Lots of wisdom behind. I was in a restaurant with a friend yesterday and as we were about to leave, the owner comes and gave us a loaf of bread, just out of the blue! Then this morning I start searching for the meaning of bread, and I found you wonderful article.

Keep it up!

Carlos

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