Have You Ever ‘sowed?’
I owe that fact that I love to cook to my Mom. When I was a little girl, she would allow me to play in the kitchen, baking and mixing little cakes, pies and cookies. I use these terms loosely as there were no recipes. Their appearance was unappetizing, the flavor most often, no matter the color, was 'paste' and the creations could surely have functioned as doorstops. My Mom called it “sowing,” as if there could be an action word to describe the persona of the female hog, (My mother has an endearing way with words like none other, but that’s a story for another day.) My Dad dutifully tasted the odd concoctions. “Mmmmm,” he’d say as he’d swallow bites of the un-identifiable masses, which I now hope he covertly spat into a napkin.
Fast forward in time, to three 10 years old girls in my kitchen last Sunday, creating their version of scones, banana bread and a braided loaf. To my dismay, no matter how many times I’ve hosted this kind of fun, the girls do not want to use recipes, which makes the final product much like my epicurean nightmares from the 70’s. When these chefs are “sowing,” there is no expectation. They are completely happy to mix random ingredients in bowls, bake and name them later. Bothered by the mess and waste, I kept pushing recipes, to no avail. This modern version features the unsuspecting big brother, who gets to play the customer and taste their wares. He is always kind in this arena and plays along... AHA -that is what this whole thing is –play! We play when we are little without expectation to try on different possibilities hidden in our creativity. I remind my students over and over in my yoga classes, "remove expectation," but I missed the value with the girls in the kitchen. These kids might be preparing for the day when they’ll be expected to make actual edible things. It finally dawned on me days later that I was pressing for production when this process is part of learning, part of becoming, part of feeding the creative process that often looks like a mess of squandered time and resources, while this very thing fostered my own love for cooking.
Unproductive time in America is frowned upon, and seen as a waste, yet there are residual benefits from many things that appear to be useless. Consider the many seemingly useless ways to spend your time “unproductively;” snuggling on the couch, doodling, singing, playing cards, riding bikes, working out, meditation, yoga. Practices like these wash over us, through us and become part of us with repetition, many bearing excellent repercusions that we may not see for hours, days, sometimes years.
Maybe “sowing” in my mom’s vernacular could be seen instead with the proper pronunciation of sowing (with the long o) in the traditional definition- with seeds. Sowing seeds requires messy dirt and fertilizer and lots of waiting for fruit or flowers… productivity is optional.
Peace be with you!