Last year during my blue period, we drove to the beach for no reason in particular other than we love the beach. I brought my camera to get some shots of the sky and the sea, and I was walking back to the truck when this graffiti on the sea wall caught my eye.
I snapped a shot mainly because most graffiti at the beach isn't this lovely or diplomatically-worded. I figured the two words -- Master yourself -- were most likely a Gatorade slogan or something. A stupid one, because you can't master yourself. You aren't something aside from yourself. You're just you, a single entity. A work in progress. No one can master something that is forever unfinished, incomplete, under construction. And when you're done, you won't be around to master anything. Master that concept, pal.
Sometimes words stick with you, though. That phrase became a like a puzzle that through the winter I kept taking apart, analyzing and trying to fit back together in a different construct. Master = control? Master = gain expertise? Yourself = ego? Yourself = personal talent? What the hell did it mean?
I stuck a copy of the photo on the fridge, mostly as a reminder to master my snacking urges.
Fast forward to tonight, when I made chicken and rice for dinner. It's my own adaptation of the amazing arroz con pollo my Latina friends' moms would stuff us with when we were kids in South Florida. I've spent decades perfecting this dish; I could probably make it in my sleep. My guy, who loathes all chicken except maybe the occasional bucket of KFC extra crispy, loves my chicken and rice. I know because he makes those nonverbal happy-man sounds while he's eating.
Me, I always think I could do a little better with it next time. Because that's how I am. I know I'm never going to be a chef like my dad. I don't have the mojo he has that turns food into ambrosia. I do okay with baking, stir-frying and the occasional casserole, but I know I'll never be more than an ordinary, decent cook. That doesn't matter. The food and the family are what's important to me.
I was washing dishes when I looked over at the graffiti photo and thought Okay, at least I've gotten pretty close to mastering chicken and rice, does that count? That's when I finally solved the puzzle, and I laughed, and I decided to write this post.
So now I will pass long the words for you to ponder: Master yourself