Saturday, September 29, 2007
Setting yourself up
I have a wonderful friend who does cake decorating. She did my wedding cake fourteen years ago and has done hundreds since. She recently related to me how she'd made a cake for her granddaughter's birthday. She'd decided to use butter cream frosting because it tastes so much better than shortening based frosting. However, it doesn't hold the decorative shapes as well as the trans-fat-laden-alternative so by the time she went to the party the frosting was blobby and drippy. She then spent the party trying not to be embarrassed and annoyed with herself--knowing that she should have used Crisco.
I don't decorate cakes, but there are so many other things in my life where I face this same thing. I hurry to get all the dishes in the dishwasher before I leave the house so that I'll have clean dishes when I get home, but getting it all done makes me late for my appointment. I--totally hypothetical here--agree to participate in a Book In A Month Challenge before reading the project I'll be working on. I haven't read it for a year and realize I need to cut 4,000 words. Not to mention that I have another book I'm editing for someone else, I am buying bookshelves that have to be put together, and between my own presentations and my kid's stuff I have 3 evenings in a two week period of time that I'm even home. I know I won't have time, but I commit anything. Sometimes it seems as if I have masochistic tendencies.
I could go on and on and on and on, but then we'd all wonder what was wrong with me.
The point is, why do we do it? Why do we set ourselves up for failure?
I think I figured it out. Because we have to fail. We simply CAN NOT do everything. My friend chose butter cream because it tastes better, she wanted a cake that tasted good. Shortening is beautiful but most people scrape it onto the plate. She had to choose between presentation and enjoyment of product. Who's to say she didn't make the right choice? If it were my cake--butter cream all the way.
Yes, I'm late for an appointment, but when I get home with half an hour to get dinner on the table, I'm sure glad the dishes got done (now, had I chosen not to spend 2 hours on the computer before I did the dishes. . . ) And as for the BIAM, well, I AM making progress that I don't think I'd be making if I didn't have a goal.
In my own life, I know that it is through my failures that I grow. It is through sin that I've come to understand the Atonement and through weaknesses that I've found the desire to do better. I still hate that I'm not perfect, hate that I can't do it all the way I see it in my head, but if I can look at life as a journey, at which I am slowly improving myself bit by bit, screw-up by screw-up, well, it's not so dang depressing.
And then I hear my friends butter cream vs. shortening story and remember that I'm not alone. We all set ourselves up in some way or another--so, what's your poison? And yes, I'm asking for purely selfish reasons.