The Long Spoon

I have three long wooden spoons in my kitchen, which I keep in a drawer. Two of them are a matched pair, probably intended for tossing salads. The third is different and may be the remnant of another pair. When I just need to use a long wooden spoon to stir something on the stove, it does not matter which spoon I use. However a certain fastidiousness in my nature moves me to want to use the odd spoon rather than one of the extant pair.
But this in turn has introduced a subtle discomfort into my kitchen routine. For although, as indicated, I was aware that the “third” spoon was different from the two others, I could not readily pick it out when reaching into the drawer. It would require a certain mental effort to fumble for the odd one, even when glancing into the drawer. Sometimes I would even end up with one of the pair inadvertently.
            As you can see, I am downright Proustian in my sensibilities. Heretofore these have been a mixed blessing, since, as noted, even spoons can cause me perplexity and discomfort. Proust could probably go on for a whole chapter about his long spoons. This is not a clinical neurosis, perhaps, but must be of a similar ilk. I wish I could turn it into literature, but I will settle for milking it for philosophy.
            Sheltering in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic has given me an opportunity to transmute this dross into gold. With few distractions in my life, and no one rushing me to do anything, I have managed to keep very busy but without stress. Furthermore, and to the point, I have consciously striven to refine my attention to everything that I do. My whole life has become an exercise in tai chi.
            And so the spoons. It occurred to me that there must, of course, be noticeable differences between the spoons in the pair and the nonpaired spoon. If I could learn to pick these out, my kitchen regime would be smoothed out.
            As soon as I set myself this task, I observed that the third spoon has a long rounded handle, whereas the other spoons have flat handles with squared sides. This was marvelous! It was so obvious, once I had noticed it. My problem was solved.
            Over time I noticed other things as well, such as the third spoon having, of course, a circular bottom, whereas the flat spoons ended in rectangles. The third spoon is also shorter, whilst the pair have darker bowls. Before long it became absurd to me how I could ever have confused them.
            Thus, a discomfort removed (having to fumble and strain) and a desire satisfied (to use the odd spoon for stirring). I also enjoyed the process of discovery.
But how trivial! Was there really anything of value to take away from this experience? Yes, I think so. It is a great lesson to know that one can tutor one’s own perception to achieve practical results. This can surely be applied to things of greater import, including passing this on to you for your own purposes.


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