Tiny journeys in my kitchen (#5): Full cup, empty bowl, half-full glass (& a summer cocktail: “sgroppino”)
|June 3, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under Drinks and cocktails, Italian, lemon|
A few social events and situations recently have allowed me to take a step back and view things a bit more stoically. I have been exposed to different perspectives on life…some good, some not that graceful, some plain different than mine. This lead me to re-think my approach to people, life and even this blog, and look back to the road travelled so far. No major trigger, but I think it was the drop that spills over a full cup.
There is a powerful Zen story that goes:
“A scholar went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the scholar talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The scholar watched the cup overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the scholar blurted. “The master stopped pouring and said: “You are like this cup; you are full of ideas about Buddha’s Way. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.”
The full cup is a meaning-full symbol that has often echoed profoundly with me. We all get “full” and have to allow ourselves to be present enough to empty our mind of things we know, preconceived ideas and prejudice, which otherwise don’t allow us to be open, empty and receptive to other things and people. In this story, the scholar is too focused on what he already knows (the full cup) and before he can take in something new from the master he has to first and “unlearn” what he knows (and empty his “cup”).
Even beyond Zen tradition, other religions (such as the Christian Franciscans and the Sufis) use a similar analogy: the empty bowl, as a powerful symbol. They use an empty bowl to beg for food, as a reminder to be humble and open to be filled by others, selflessly, and of course by God’s mercy. If we are full with our opinions and rational believes we can’t be open to new experiences and new learnings.
It’s tough for me coming from an Aristotelian, logical, Western perspective to step back and listen, because I am instinctively pushed to want to talk, tell others, project, judge, say. I am not anymore immune getting it back… the sting and burn of receiving this though still affects me, no matter how much I practice detachment.
One reason I think humans are triggered to act this way is because deep down we are still animals and our push to belong to a “pack” overcomes the willingness to step away and be different. Often times, growing up and well into my adult years, I have had to manage my diversity, in many settings. Be it being from a different geography (I moved in my teens, and then again in my twenties: this time to a completely different country), a different social class (I have experienced both upwards and downwards snobbery), a different sex (the risks and preconceptions of being a woman intensify depending on where you are), a different intellectual level (from ignorance to bliss –mine- to plain superiority –of others, that is-), a different religion (I have gone from catholic to atheist to pantheist to balanced Christian), a different political mindset (oddly – and thankfully- I was more conservative as a youth than I am now), a different physicality (hair color, skin color, body shape, height… growing up my mother was 1 size smaller which was just GREAT to boost my teenage confidence…not!), and so on.
Throughout my “navigations” I have noticed that I really don’t like belonging to one particular group… I feel that belonging often takes away from my adventurous capacity to explore freely new ideas and question a set of preconceived notions. Has that hurt me over time? Yes, definitively…in the short run. But over time, it has been my strength. While I have a high degree of adaptability and flexibility, I feel a strong need to shy away from “packs” (even from ones I perfectly fit in). The behavior that happens in packs, cliques, clans, sororities/fraternities, lobbies, and the likes can be destructive if not nullifying to the individual. Certainly packs have their benefits: there is power -and safety- in numbers as they say, but it all depends on how that power is used. I am not advocating lonely individualism, but I am saying that owning our own self is important and in the end builds confidence, fresh mindsets, and new ideas. Ironically, Galileo was against everyone, but reminded us that the cosmos is not geocentric.
In the end, I have chosen to see my glass as half full. I know that there is always more I can fill it with but also that what’s in it is wonderful. I have learned to accept my beautiful quirks, my uniqueness and diversity, and my imperfections. It is this magical recipe that makes me who I am. And I love looking at others the same way: they certainly have gaps but oh so many other things I can look for, benefit and learn from. One amazing woman (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) said it best: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
I find that I can live a healthier, happier life with an empty bowl (my openness to receive), a full cup ready to be emptied (acceptance of what I know and willingness to pour it all out), and a half-full glass (a balanced perspective).
And because this is a food blog after all, I have included a recipe for an Italian cocktail called “Sgroppino”, which roughly translated into getting slightly un-tangled! It is a great refreshing after dinner drink for a hot summer night.
|“Sgroppino”, an Italian summer cocktail|
- 4 cup chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine)
- 1/4 cup chilled vodka (you can use citrus)
- 1/3 cup frozen lemon sorbet, lemon gelato or fresh squeezed lemon juice
- A few fresh mint leaves
- Zest of one lemon
- Stir together the Prosecco, vodka and sorbet (or lemon juice) and pour equally in 4 Champagne flutes. Top with mint leaves and fresh lemon zest twist. Serve immediately after dinner.
[For reference: previous “tiny journeys in my kitchen” posts: 1. a simple lunch (toast) 2. coffee for you (cappuccino) 3. Mediterranean simplicity (pasta al limone) 4. 5 minutes a day (& a small microwave tea-cake)]