Sunday, November 20, 2011

the ocean

This summer I visited the beach as often as possible.  My feelings about the seashore are similar to other people's feelings about mountains. Each wave is a peak, each calm a valley. Vast and expansive, full of secrets, the ocean is as cavernous as any mountain range. We stand at a precipice, whether at the ocean's edge or a mountain's top.

One particular day my best beach pal had to leave for work and I decided to stay.  Late afternoon was coming on as I strolled South along the shore.  The sun made blinding sparkles as it danced and reflected with the radiant turquoise water, each wave painted with golden surf.

After a while, I turned to face the sea; just stood there and let the sun drench me.  If I were on the Titanic, I would've been doing that flying lean out at the bow thing.  If I did yoga I would have been doing sun salutations. On a mountain top I might have been shouting to hear my echo. You get the idea. And then I heard a voice.

"What do you want?" It said.  "You know you can have anything.  So what is it that you want?"

Stunning. (Was all I could think)

Like the deep rumble of an earthquake or thunder that starts slow and then becomes clear, I didn't doubt what I heard.

The calm confident sound in the voice made me feel like whatever I named would be given to me and so I didn't want to be frivillous with the opportunity. (You don't waste a conversation like this on what you want for Christmas.) My mind was silent and clear.  No interference. In that shining instant, I didn't even have spend time to consider the question. I knew the answer.  Without realizing it, all the surface concerns were washed away, and I saw the deepest truth. I didn't ask for what I knew I could achieve on my own.

And that day it wasn't as much about achieving something as it was about listening into the quiet.  About owning your hope.  As I've probably mentioned before, settling for what you think you can get is different from setting out to get what you actually want.  It's important to know the difference.

Be ready though, once you ask, you're setting yourself on a path and it might change your course.

Life is a puzzle, filled with good options and we have to sift through and discover the pieces that fit.  Not the pieces we wish fit or someone else's pieces.  This process takes forever and that's probably why a lot of old people are confident and loving and funny...

For the New Year I wish this conversation for everyone. Each of us is a part of this universe.  Each with a story to write and the chance to have a purpose and a dream, or lots of them.

If the ocean isn't asking you, then ask yourself.  You know you can have anything you want, so what is it?

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" -- Robert H. Schuller

Monday, November 7, 2011


A little off the subject from Horticulture is another science, Chemistry.  Right now we're learning about limiting reagents.  That is to say, we're learning that in every situation there is a factor that limits the amount of production.  In Chemistry we're talking about the combination of two or three elements on the periodic chart and their ability to combine and create a new substance.  The limiting reagent is the element we have the least of will because it will decide how much product we can create.  But, this idea of limiting factors is not specific to Chemistry.  When we take away the confusing technical jargon, we can apply this concept to anything.

For example, recently I made stuffed shells for an early Thanksgiving Feast. The element in my refrigerator that determined how many shells I could make was the ricotta cheese.  I only had enough Ricotta to make 34 shells.  Since Ricotta is the main ingredient in the filling, it is the limiting reagent in the recipe.  (No point in having empty shells.)

It's not just cooking...A person's ability to build muscle or to lose weight is based on a number of elements.  A person's ability to learn, to love, to grow...all these are based on a combination of elements and it isn't too difficult to discover the one element will limit the success of whatever is attempted.

My latest realization is this:  School is a condensed version of life.  You learn lessons by experience, but it takes a lifetime. We need a lot more knowledge a lot sooner than we can gain from living and so we educate ourselves.  Ideally we combine our education with life experience and get a balanced idea of how to conduct ourselves and succeed in the world.  However, since life is not ideal, it's easy to see that one or the other: experience or education could limit a person's ability to achieve or succeed. For that matter, a number of other things could limit us as well. 

It seems important to note what our personal limiting agents are.  Are we limiting ourselves? Are we limited by fear? Are we limited by something else? Some cards we are dealt and we have to accept, however, others we can trade in, discard or collect more of....Circumstances exist that allow us to add more of the element we are lacking, so that we can become unlimited.  

Here is the recipe for the stuffed shells.  The only change I made was to add a tsp of chopped fresh tarragon and to split the cheese,half and half finely shredded mozzerella