Thursday, December 12, 2013

What makes us tick?

Sorting and clearing out the accumulations
It's happening again, but it took me a couple of weeks to recognize it. A couple of years back, I wrote about finding myself sorting through old VHS tapes and CDs instead of packing for an upcoming hike in Portugal. (click here for earlier article). This time around, instead of decorating the Christmas tree, or wrapping presents, or getting ready for the crowd expected at our party this week, I have been straightening the linen closet, rooting through the pantry for canned food for the needy, collecting "gently used"  clothes, and sorting my recipes (!).

As in my previous blogpost about this perhaps quirky behavior, around our household we refer to these episodes as "Jon Carroll" activities. Carroll, a long-time columnist who writes for the S.F. Chronicle, occasionally mentions that he has once again found himself doing such things as tidying up the basement when he should be dressing for a holiday event. Worthy activities, but strangely timed!

canned goods go to local food bank
Reflecting on how I have spent much of my waking hours the last couple of weeks, I am pleased that the towels are still neatly stacked, that we have donated canned goods to the local food pantry, and (especially) that two sleeping bags have been delivered to a homeless shelter.

But what is it about the recipe sorting? I have file folders, file jackets, and 3-ring binders stuffed with recipes. I'm not (quite?) crazy enough to count them, but clearly I have more than a thousand of them. Some have been sorted into appropriate categories of "appetizers," "salads," "main dishes," and "desserts," during previous episodes of de-cluttering, but those I've torn out of the Sunday papers, Sunset Magazine, and Bon Appetit during this last year were in an messy pile until my recent urge to purge began. Granted, now that I am more than half-way through the accumulation, I have managed to fill the paper recycle bin with discarded recipes that are too complex, too fattening, or too strange, but this activity begs the question: When, considering I don't cook more than once every fortnight, am I going to try even 10% of these recipes? It has occurred to me that even if someone were to use one of the recipes in my collection or in our cookbooks daily, there would not be able during my lifetime to try them all.

I'm sure there are underlying  (and some overt) reasons why I go into the occasional clearing out/tidying up mode, but I don't think they are related to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) or attempts to ward off SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I've been staying indoors more than usual lately because the outdoor temperatures have been dropping into the 20s and 30s at night and staying in the 30s and 40s during the day; it has been bitter cold when the wind picks up. This has been no more than an occasional inconvenience for me; for the homeless it has been punishing. There have been stories in the news recently about several people dying of hypothermia on the streets of San Jose, Saratoga, and elsewhere. To me, doing my small part to help has seemed more urgent than sitting at my computer writing. Hence, I have been taking advantage of the cold to tackle tasks that can be completed indoors.

In considering "What makes us tick," I've observed that the unseen forces that guide us along a path can surprise us because sometimes we find ourselves on a route that is different than our planned one. That can be a very good thing!  

1 comment:

Timecheck said...

Living with you is never boring!