I love to bake. An inheritance from my grandmothers and my mother. A result, perhaps of working in a bakery as a teenager. During my wife’s illness I would bring cookies to the infusion center staff when she was having her chemo treatments. It was by way of a thank you and something I could do when I felt so helpless in the face of the cancer.
After my wife Betsy died, I continued the practice of occasionally bringing a treat, some chocolate concoction or a couple plates of snickerdoodles, to the faithful folks at the infusion center who so lovingly cared for her during her illness.
I had been baking in our house since the move back to Kansas City (Prairie Village) and had fallen into a routine with all my ingredients and tools, silpats and measuring cups, always in the same place.
During the pandemic there were fewer opportunities to shower unsuspecting people with flourless chocolate cake etc. After some of the restrictions were lifted, I continued baking and offering some sort of treat to the folks at my bank, they took care of all my financial struggles after Betsy died, and other folks including an occasional painful return to the infusion center.
I delight in baking for others. I suppose it is secretly a way for a diabetic to live vicariously by watching others eat chocolate etc.
Today I decided to bake some “big fat chocolate chip” cookies for the some of the staff at the apartment complex, and for some friends I was going to visit. Having just moved I found myself standing in the middle of the kitchen totally unable to process or think where I had put sugar and flour and measuring cups and teaspoons and tablespoons. My hands reached for drawers where those things were in my “old house.” So, during the early morning baking process I was constantly confronted by change. It wasn’t a philosophical or sociological change; it was spacial and environmental. My environment was totally new. I didn’t know where anything was.
At some point this morning, as I was standing, totally befuddled, in the middle of my fairly small kitchen, I began to think about all of the ramifications of change. I thought about the changes in our societal structure and the seemingly unlimited amount of hate that seems to be more widespread and more intense than it was before. Our social atmosphere seems to have changed. I thought about all the technology that bombards us each day, technology that is both known and unknown. It is a change from the relative simplicity of rotary phones and not being connected to each other electronically every moment of every day. I thought about the changes in my life cycle, how getting older, not working, at least not in a structured job, has made me retired, semi-retired or maybe just tired.
Heraclitus, a long time ago (500 BCE), as part of his philosophical understanding of the world in which he lived said: “The only constant in life is change.” Perhaps we could add another piece to the constancy of change that has to do with what seems to be in our time in the world, change at an accelerated pace.
But change is all around us and for many of us we stand in the middle of our kitchens befuddled by the rate of change and the change itself, looking for a measuring cup so we can bake some cookies.
I will learn the drawers in my new kitchen, it may take a while, but I will find the measuring cups and teaspoons, I will. I will adjust, somewhat to the changes in the world, sometimes with grace and sometimes with confusion and anger, I will. But during that process what is most important for me, perhaps for us all, is to find a touch stone, a rock to hold onto, a place that centers us. For today the centering place for me is baking cookies to give away and hopefully let someone know I’m thinking about them and in a limited way offer a smile and some chocolate.