Making It From Scratch

We threw a party the other evening and several of the guests were surprised that I had made most everything “from scratch.” Although they were impressed, I could also see that some of them were surprised. Some of them clearly would have passed up the “from scratch” process in favor of something ready-made.

The flan in its water bath

After all, Costco has perfectly good ready-made lasagna. There’s a little Mexican restaurant across town that has flan nearly as good as I can make.

For me, it’s the difference between the product and the process. It’s the difference between having what I like and making something during a process I like.

It was part of my enjoyment of the party!

What do you enjoy doing? Is there some art or craft activity that you love? Do you enjoy social activities such as sports, board games, cards, etc.? Do you love walking in the woods?

You see, it’s not the “thing” that is created. No one (I hope) really cares who wins the Monopoly game. It’s not the destination of the walk. It’s not really the flan that matters (although it was delicious!).

What matters is living fully and consciously in the process of life.

The Buddhists call this living mindfully. It’s when you are fully committed to what’s going on. You’re paying attention to the moment in all its small details. You’re not thinking ahead or reliving the past—you’re in the now.

The Buddha also tells us that we can begin to apply this same delight to all areas of our lives. We don’t just have this level of awareness and delight with the things we already like to do. We can begin to bring the same “from scratch” attitude to everything. As we begin to really live in the moment, we begin to see that each moment has its elements of interest, of complexity and of joy. Cleaning the kitchen can be just as interesting as messing it up. Servicing the car can be just as fun as going for a drive.

They’re all just activities, after all.

When we do them with our full attention, when we do them “from scratch,” it’s surprising how interesting life becomes. Or, I guess, it’s surprising how interesting we become!