Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Baker's Way

I have a friend who recently told me he is feeling a lack in his life. He is a successful person by any standard measure (college educated, employed, partnered), yet his life and work leaves him unsatisfied.

For those like him that are searching, I offer this: find that which brings you to a state of immanence, or total immersion in the act.  For someone like Mark Zuckerberg, it might be the act of writing program code.  For Ed Espe Brown and others like myself, it is bread baking.  Aside from the zenlike motions of kneading dough by hand, baking is an infinitesimal art of degrees, where small changes in a recipe can influence the end product dramatically.  Bread baking feels like endlessly opening a Chinese box, a nested structure where there are no dead ends, only endless doors to open, giving one the sensation of always being on the cusp of something, like the crest of a wave.

So to my friend the searcher, I say to him find your Chinese box and endlessly open it.  It may not be something that you ever master, because you will be continuously mastering it.  To achieve mastery is to steadily decrease the residual, the remainder that is beyond reach.  But in that remainder is the aleph, the kernel of the idea that brought you to the problematic in the first place, that attracted you and compelled you to open the first page.

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