Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It Helps if You Turn the Stove On

Your brain is  a file cabinet, tucking away hundreds of recipes for your dreams and goals.  On those wistful days where you relax and daydream about what foods you want to devour, you rummage through your dream cookbooks, coming across a recipe that spikes your inner cravings.  Your mouth waters, your tongue dances across your lips, and your stomach yearningly moans as you imagine those recipes fully prepared, plated on the most intricate china next to the finest silverware that will be used to carry each bite to your lips.  You've found your recipe. 

Once your hands elevate that recipe out of the rest, you excitedly throw all of the ingredients you need into a pot, anxiously anticipating the moment where your meal will boil into the most delectable feast.  Except it doesn't boil.  It waits on the burner, still cool, still uncooked. 
You forgot to turn the stove on.   

Before starting my day this morning, I had a goal - I needed one more cup of coffee.  The coffee pot that had already brewed a few cups was inconveniently empty, so I was forced to heat some more water (woe is me, right?).  Being the accomplished coffee maker that I am and wanting to get on with my day, I filled my teapot with the faster-filling tap water, I whipped the pot onto the lightning-speed back burner, and I had enough motivation to start cooking my breakfast knowing that the bubbling hot water would soon be brewing a cup of instant coffee.   

I did all I needed to prepare my water, but its progress was not as I anticipated.  My breakfast was already well in the works.  The morning sunlight started peaking in through the window.  Something seemed off, and it was my stove.  Although I decided upon my goal and readied all the materials needed to set my goal in motion, I missed the most crucial step; I didn't start it.  I didn't even give the fire a chance to burn out because I didn't light it in the first place.  Unfortunately, this is what happens to many goals.  They sit on the burners, but they're never lit. 

Coming up with a dream or a goal is such an exhilarating feeling.  You imagine yourself living a life where you experience all of your deepest desires, where you make a difference, and where inspirational people and opportunities surround you.  Just thinking of this fantasy world leaves you excited and motivated, so you contemplate the next steps needed, including who you need to contact and what you need to get yourself ready.  Sure, coming up with this plan is necessary; you need to gather the ingredients that will bring your meal to fruition.  But simply having these ingredients in your hands won't cook your food.  You have to be the chef that oversees the entire cooking process, from turning the dial to stirring, tasting, and even sometimes adding a little more spice. 

I will be the first chef to admit that it can be rather intimidating to start the journey.  Whether I'm scared I'll break it or I think that I'll twist it too far, burning my food or even myself, turning the knob is what I have struggled with in the past.  But something that I've really been pushing myself to do lately is to just  shove on some heat-protecting gloves and do it.  Even the cavemen knew that there really isn't anything magical about the process; the fire just has to be lit.  Sometimes the recipe isn't turning out the way I imagined, but I am forcing myself to try.  Just as the dreams, themselves, are exciting, the process can be just as invigorating.  You may learn more about yourself, your dream may start taking hold, or you may even develop new relationships and experiences, all that would have rotted if you just let the pot sit. 

If there is a goal or a dream that you seriously want to achieve, strap on those gloves, glue a spatula to your hand, take those ingredients that you came up with, and start cooking.  I can't promise you that your dream will turn to reality.  You may dish up a meal deemed worthy of service in a three-star Michelin restaurant, or your dish may not even please your dog.  However, there is absolutely no way for you or anyone else to know the resulting taste without actually going through the entire process.
So think about your recipes.  Choose one or a few that you long for, and assemble the ingredients that you will need.  After you put it all into a pot, don't forget to turn the stove on. 

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