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Home » Reflections » Challenges in the Kitchen

Challenges in the Kitchen
by Mary Cook

The attitude of sacrifice regarding material circumstances teaches us to confront those challenges that open up possibilities for us.

The teaching "Material Circumstances."

Challenges in the Kitchen

I was assigned to kitchen duty while on a retreat. I don't like cooking and don't do it well. There is other work that I am much better at, but I decided to accept my situation as a challenge and see what I could learn from it.

The first thing I encountered was my instinctive reaction to reject what I don't like. Even though I wanted to accept the kitchen work, a part of me grumbled and, if I was not alert, overwhelmed me with negative thoughts.

I asked myself, "What's the use of performing a task grudgingly?" As I considered my difficulty, I saw that the force of my reaction usually took me by surprise. After several days of effort and experimentation, I found that I could distance myself a little from my habitual reaction of "Oh no!" when kitchen duty rolled around. I could acknowledge my dislike to myself, but did not have to be swept away by it. This trick of stopping and distancing myself from a reaction let me enter the kitchen with a degree of equanimity.

Another aspect of myself that I became conscious of is my desire to shine at what I do, and I realized that I have a tendency to select tasks with this in mind.

I was intrigued by these two glimpses into ways of thinking buried deep within myself. As I am usually unconscious of them, I am probably being influenced by them in many other contexts, beyond the kitchen and the retreat.

As my attention shifted from my own preoccupations, I became more aware of the other members of the kitchen crew. Some of them obviously really enjoyed cooking! I wondered: Could some of their skill and enthusiasm rub off on me? It's not likely, but it is possible. 

 


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