Tuesday, January 15, 2008

the restlessness of the young bakers

When do we get there, wherever we're going? How do we know if it's the right time to go or to stay?

(how long are you gonna be in california...cause i might come out)

When is the last time you held someone's hand? When is the last time you drove for hours with no real reason but the pleasure of it? When is the last time you got on an airplane and left a piece of your heart at the end destination? When is the last time you took a chance? When is the last time you thought you were in control?

In college, Michael sat us down one day in class. You have, none of you, ever made a real decision in your life. Sure, you chose to come here instead of some other college, but that's not a real choice. You would have gone. It would be much the same. Those aren't real choices.

Have I made any real choices yet? Is this a choice? What happens when what you want turns into a string of ellipses, when the straight line at last is revealed to be a curve, or sometimes a circle, bringing you back to where you always wanted to be?

How do we learn how to fix our mistakes? How do we make better educated guesses?

Is it more empowering to know your place or to have autonomy but no direction? To make the decisions but be blind to the larger process, or to handle one small piece at a time?

How do we know when it's done? How do we know when to push or when to wait, whether we have enough for service or what surprises the day might bring?

It seems like most of the teachers are themselves not learned enough. That sometimes their snappishness is because they don't have the answers themselves. That some people are content to know that it works and some people need to know why, and maybe only on their thirtieth time making it do they need to know why.

The conversation last night turned to a fellow baker. There's something I never saw in her. I see it in my boss and sous chef all the time, a small act of authority behind every move and every decision. In her I never saw anything beyond me.

If I forget occasionally how lucky I am to be where I am, last night I remembered I have not one but two superskilled pastry chefs who tease, poke, prod us to be better. Sometimes gratitude is lonely. Sometimes revelations happen in the quiet moments. Sometimes it's in the letting go.

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