Life? It’s a piece of cake!
Nicole Law dives deep into the truths hidden on a plate.
I discovered a unique dessert place with some good friends recently. Prior to our visit, we pre-booked slices of cake that would be prepared beforehand and served to us during our one and a half hour long slot.
I was intrigued by the menu online as I perused the selection – the menu had no pictures! The different types of cakes available were alluded to by coloured horizontal stripes stacked on top of each other in a minimalist design.
There was an air of mystery as we entered the 12-seater space and set our bags down: a departure from the strict routine of the 9-5 weekday. Soft instrumental music played and we waited in anticipation for the cakes to arrive. The prospect of not knowing what would be presented to us filled us with excitement.
And so with life. Often, we only have a vague idea, a broad sketch at best, of how it may pan out.
We can only rely on the three lines of colour we see or the opaque text descriptions in the ‘menu of life’ for clues. Maybe that’s where a lot of the excitement lies too.
Three plates of delicate desserts arrived at the table. Thin sheets of caramel adorned my friend’s tea-flavoured pudding, while bite-sized chunks of biscuits protruded out of my other friend’s cheesecake. As my chosen dessert arrived, I shot the waiter a quizzical look. What looked like a grey pot of soil stood on the green clay plate before me.
I ventured to ask, somewhat uncertainly, “Is everything on this plate edible?” The waiter chuckled slightly and informed me, “Yes, everything except the green plate!” I observed the grey pot, amazed at its resemblance to a pot one would find in one’s home. As my friends tucked into their desserts and we stole bites across the table, I invited them to slow down (perhaps my own attempt at slow living in a hectic world).
At my insistence, my friend set down her fork and sipped her honey tea. Long, slow sips, the antithesis of gulping down coffee on a Monday.
I stuck my fork into the ‘pot cake’ to cut through to the gooey centre. It seemed like an act of unearthing the soil to reveal the depths of a ‘plant’s’ roots, except that, in this case, the soil proved to be rather delicious!
It drew parallels with my current season of life, a period of unearthing my own beliefs about what is important to me and being OK with doing the deeper internal work. My hesitation at starting to unearth the chocolate soil is representative of a deeper fear of what I may find in my own heart.
Would I find a shallow root system which can be easily raked through with the edge of my fork, or, in other words, which can be cut to pieces by any challenge? Or would I find a powerful root that can stand up against the vagaries of the changing seasons?
The metaphor was very clear to me: how strong is my value system?
As I dug deeper into the chocolate soil and also into the ‘soil’ of my own heart, I came face to face with some deep fears and insecurities, fears which may not be visible at the surface level or through casual conversation.
Prior to sticking my fork into the cake, the little masterpiece of patisserie looked too pretty to eat, much like how we often feel compelled to present an aura of perfection to the world around us. Only when we start to dig deeper to discover what motivates us and why we want the things we want do we start to understand and appreciate the complexities of who we are.
My friend pointed out that the microgreen in my cake had started to bend sideways as the soft filling beneath it melted, quipping: “Hey, growth is non-linear, you know”. I laughed. Indeed it is.
There are days when we feel we have made noticeable progress. We’ve held back before reacting negatively, we’ve made it through another week without turning to something to numb ourselves, we’ve got up early to take a slow jog around the block. And there are also days when the progress is imperceptible. It even feels like a sort of regression when we start to enact old patterns of behaviour. But the truth is, there will be those days.
Growth is not a straight path, nor is healing.
The sudden waves of emotion steeped in memories and nostalgia will hit us from time to time. We can choose consciously to sit with this discomfort and to credit ourselves for the small steps we take each day.
I’ve started to look at myself and other people with greater kindness and empathy. I’ve also started to see the simple truths that lie in full view – sometimes in the guise of deep conversation with old friends over slices of cake.
You should try it some time. There’s a lot of satisfaction in letting that smooth grey exterior come tumbling down to reveal within the messy, but ultimately sweet, interior it contains.
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