Into the fire


Last night over Indian food, I was telling my friend Anna about everything going on in my life and Jeff’s life, and I used the phrase, “out of the frying pan and into the fire” to describe why I feel cautious about analyzing all of life’s options and vetting them on a sort of Scoville scale lest I get burned.

Anna didn’t know what I meant. Jeff theorized later that maybe this is a Southern phrase, a theory that seems reasonable given the frying pan. But regardless of where it came from, I’ve heard myself say it over and over again lately, almost like a manta against rash thinking. Out of the frying pan and into the fire−it creeps into every “catching up” chat I have over coffee or cocktails in the same way the recently bereaved must find themselves saying “one foot in front of the other” or “we’re getting by.” So I explained myself to Anna: this fear of moving from peril to peril, blind to danger because of the impulse for escape.

“But you would just caramelize so beautifully and so fast,” Anna said.

And there it was. She hadn’t missed a beat, and the immediacy of her reply gave it weight in my heart: It was all so simple. So there’s fire−so what? I jump again, I caramelize, I transform into the best possible version of myself. That’s not an easy thing, but it is another possible outcome, an alternative that gives me power over my own narrative again.

Earlier this week, I saved the following quote:
Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. − M. Scott Peck, American psychiatrist

I’ve always believed in the truth of this idea−I’ve even written about it before−but clearly I needed to hear it again, in food terms I could understand.

Happy caramelizing, friends!

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