The Art of Making It Up

In some circles, I would be labeled a “rule-keeper”.  In others, analytical,  an organizer, Type-A, you get my drift.  I like lists, maps, charts, recipes and other tools used to “do it correctly”.  There are some who say this makes me inflexible or unable to “go with the flow”.  I argue that it’s quite the contrary.

What I have found over the years is that this practice of “doing it right” has given me the knowledge and wisdom to be perfectly comfortable “making it up”.

For example, recipes tell you how to make a gourmet meal “the right way” so that it’s delicious, nurtitious, and looks pretty on a plate.  Having the right spices in the proper amounts can make or break a dish.  Having followed the rules for so long, I learned a thing or two about substitutions, complementary blends, cooking times, and even short cuts. 

Case in point: we’ve had a few snow and ice storms lately – neither of which put me in the mood for either shopping or cooking, yet I still have a hungry family to feed (and PB&J just won’t cut it with this crowd).  This past Friday I was out all day, then had to bring the kids to an event at 3:30.  I decided to take advantage of this time and go to the gym myself.  I got home at 4:30, they were due home at 5:30 and dinner was nowhere in sight.  In the fridge was some leftover beef stew (no, not that again!), some chicken thighs, and some veges.  Well, that would have to do.  I knew I had a recipe for lemon chicken around here somewhere (though I’ve never made it, didn’t know where the recipe was, and currently have no lemons in the house).   Oh, but there were some limes.  And some zucchini, and some mushrooms, onions and garlic (those always go well together).  OK, into a pan with some vege broth went the chicken, and into a pot of boiling water went some noodles.  That could cook while I was checking my email.  Thirty minutes later here come the troops.  Chop up some veges and throw them into the pan with the chicken.  Squeeze some lime juice into the pan.  Grind some pepper and voila!  Instant gourmet meal. 

I have to say it smelled pretty good, but I’d had a headache all afternoon so went upstairs to rest while they ate.  I never did get around to asking how they liked it, but the entire pan was eaten by the time I made it back downstairs.

This applies to other areas of life as well.  If you have knowledge of a general framework or a basic idea of probabilities, you can feel really comfortable about and have fun with “making things up”, instead of being worried about “will this work and will I lose everything in the process”.

So, to all you analytically organized list-makers out there – you do have the power to wing-it, to be flexible, to go with the flow…and actually have your spur of the moment ideas work out pretty darn well.

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