I hate to say it, but it’s true: everything takes practice. Floating through anything on beginner’s luck only lasts so long and if you want to be good at anything, you have to practice.
Yesterday, I had some time to kill and I was thirsty so I went to the nearby grocery store for some tea. Since I had no particular agenda and a little time to spare, I decided to take my time and look at the different sections of fruit and chocolates that I found. Previous trips to the grocery store had involved tears as the sheer volume of possible food items bared down on me from every aisle. This time I would not be pressured by the need to get frozen foods home as quickly as possible. I could go slowly, consider ingredients, weigh my options and know beforehand that I wasn’t going to buy any of it—I was just looking.
This was actually a really great exercise, I thought. I needed to adjust my mind to include things that I had previously dismissed completely. I have to make myself look at chocolate. I have to seek out the citrus table in the fruit section. It’s truly amazing how we can put blinders on, whether they are self-imposed or not and simply gloss over vast quantities of information. I’ve done this for years. I had trained my eyes to simply ignore anything with chocolate, strawberries or citrus. An automatic filtering system that was very efficient at selecting only what I could eat. I didn’t even know I could do this until I tried to look for things outside the filters perimeters.
I was practicing: practice seeing chocolate and saying “mmm” silently to myself. I have to retrain my brain: make these previously repulsive things seem desirable. I was looking at the chocolate bars, comparing cocoa percentages, flavor combinations. “Can I help you find something?” a cheery voice said behind me. “No thanks. I’m just practicing.” Shit. Did I just say that out loud? Judging from the look on her face, it seems I did. This is embarrassing: who needs to practice grocery shopping?! The clerk keeps looking at me out of the corner of her eye. Time to move on.
I noticed how tentatively I approached the pastry counter. I’ve approached wild animals with less trepidation. The chocolate cake is not going to attack, Lisa. The strawberry pie cannot fling itself up against the glass and try to bite you. These are the things I’m saying to myself. The pastries aren’t puffing themselves up to look bigger, just to intimidate me. They are more scared of me than I am of them. Damn it. First I have to practice grocery shopping and now I’m personifying pastries! Once again, I am confronted with my own naïveté. Cocoa novice. Beginning berry-eating.
I make complex conceptual art pieces! I have a long list of literary accomplishments and a wide variety of interests! And yet, my mind cannot deal with so many dessert choices.