While reading Cooking for Geeks, I fixated on one of those startling but ever-so-obvious statements: “When you see recipes calling for ‘1 cup nuts, chopped,’ measure the nuts,then chop; likewise, if the recipe calls for ‘1 cup chopped nuts,’ chop the nuts and then measure out 1 cup.” Here’s why I have been pondering that insight for a few days.
I live life by chopping nuts and cramming as many as possible into a 1 cup (day) vessel. Is this better or worse—more or less self-actualizing —than living by scooping up 1 cup of nuts and chopping them later? That is, am I going to parcel out the nuts or am I going to savor each nut scooped in which case, I don’t even need to chop them after they’re measured. Stay with me here.
Let’s suppose that I’m dieting and counting calories. Should I weigh the peach and count the calories per gram, eating it slice by slice (1 cup nuts, chopped)? Or should I chop up the peach and squeeze as many of the peach bits into as small of a vessel as I can (1 cup chopped nuts)? Or—and here’s the insight—should I grab the peach and savor it, realizing that I didn’t get fat by eating ripe peaches, so what’s the big deal? If you’re not convinced that the third approach vastly affects eating pleasure, log your own food—every morsel—for a week on caloriecount.com. It soon ceases to be fun.
So you’re on board with the chopped before, chopped after, and forget chopping comparison to dieting but am wondering about how this metaphor applies to self-actualization, right? I invite you to journey with me during a typical summer day, and I’ll bet that you quickly figure out the comparison. Today, I read on my Kindle for 1.5 hours before I got up, sat outside for 1 hour to get some Vitamin D while I read less than my pre-planned number of pages of my Thomas Wolfe novel because my mom called, but did finish watering the bushes. I worked in breakfast with my husband–measuring all the ingredients–and thereafter, played the best of 3 card games. After that, I got ready for PT. I had some time leftover, so I checked my emails. Back from PT, I made lunch—pasta, baked squash and zucchini, tomato, and light alfredo sauce. It wasn’t ready when we were ready to eat, so we played the best of 3 cards first as I ignored the timer for the vegetables, which burned. It was, then, dishes in the sink and off to working on the computer, sorting the mail, planning dinner, and warming my coffee. The rest of the day, I expect, will continue in that less than “School’s out for summer” triumphant leisurely lifestyle. Most of this activity—timed, counted, and measured—falls into the 1 cup chopped nuts model.
But what if I stopped right now and adopted the “1 cup of nuts—whatever I have on hand that I like” model? What if I read when, what, and how much I pleased for the rest of the day? What if I ate with gusto but moderation and for good health without counting calories per gram? What if I played more or less cards, depending on my mood? What if I lived more slowly, more focused, and more pleasured? Would that mean that I would accept myself more fully, reject unhealthy expectations, and relate better with others? In short, would I be a more self-actualized person?