Pass the Salt and Pepper

Everybody eats food. It is how we stay alive. It is what nourishes and sustains our bodies and allows us to grow healthy and strong.

Sometimes we season our food with herbs, spices and lots of other yummy things like lemon juice. These additions make the flavors “pop”. Sometimes it makes the food palatable, when it might otherwise not be so good….

herbs blog3 (oregano)

We season and flavor our thoughts too. Thoughts that make us who we are. Thoughts that guide our motives, actions, interactions, behaviors, dreams.

“Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.”
Soren Kierkegaard

Different herbs and spices work differently with different foods. Thyme is wonderful with sautéed mushrooms, but the taste effect is very different when thyme is added to a Harvest soup. We love to look at, smell, bathe in, sleep with lavender, but it is divine in chocolate, tea, honey and as a marinade for salmon.

“Curry” is not one fixed combination of spices. The recipe varies from region to region. The same for Garam Masala and Piri Piri. There are different flavors and even textures found in salts and peppers.

We each have our favorite seasoning in cooking and at the table. Some of us use salt sparingly only in the cooking process. Others of us salt everything without even checking the taste first. Some of us like lots of spicy pepper while others may even be physically allergic to it. We have our favorite combinations of foods and spices/herbs: black beans and cumin, spaghetti sauce and basil, goulash and paprika, jerk seasoning for chicken or fish, za’atar  on fish, meat or vegetables, rosemary with potatoes or meat, sage in stuffing, green beans with dill, you get the idea.

Sometimes something just sounds or smells so yucky and gross we could never even try it. We won’t even give it a chance.  If we don’t at least try, we will never know. If we try it and don’t like it we can stop ( for me that’s asafetida), or perhaps learn to appreciate what the particular flavor brings to the food.  Think of fennel bulb and a strong hard licorice candy. Many people who don’t like the candy enjoy the mellow flavor of roasted fennel bulb or the bright flavor it brings raw in a salad.

Obviously using herbs and spices is a choice. Many foods require little or no extra enhancements.

I’ve been thinking recently about how I think about things, how those thoughts influence who I am, who I present to be to others, how I gauge and tolerate things I know little about…..or even a lot about.   How my thoughts dictate what I do, and how I do it. And it came to me it’s like using herbs and spices. The way we flavor our thoughts is what makes us unique…what gives us our “flavor”.

If you sprinkle your thoughts with compassion your being becomes compassionate. It’s like sprinkling your French fries with salt—they become salty, making them delicious. If you sprinkle your thoughts with fear they may become debilitating like too many ghost peppers in a hot sauce. Your personality may become too hot and abrasive. If your thoughts center on the criticizing and judgment of others, it’s a bit like stinging nettle. While there are benefits, it is difficult to harvest…you have to know how in order to reap those benefits, or you end up getting hurt. If you sting others too often with hurtful thoughts, words and actions, you will be left alone.  Add some tolerance to your thinking and it may bring that perfect mellowness like cardamom to hot chai. A cardomon personality says “come, relax, let me offer you comfort.” A shake of acceptance may bring a burst of delight like mint in peas. Acceptance is always refreshing. Thoughts of caring for, being of service to others is like cinnamon: warm and inviting, a little mysterious and yet familiar and comforting. Cloves, like thoughts of caution, work if used sparingly, otherwise the food is rendered inedible. Clove scented thoughts may create a  personality that can be warm and inviting or off-putting and avoided. Our thoughts are the spices and flavorings of who we are. As we put care into how we add, change, enhance or dilute flavors in food, our thoughts do the same for the person we are. The person others see us as. And as in cooking, everyone has their own likes and dislikes. And that regulates what we eat, how healthy we are, how much energy we have, how long we live. Our thoughts are the same. They can dictate and influence how healthy we are, how well we sleep, the people who enjoy us, the way we are viewed by others, the contributions we make to others and our community. Of course our individual concern with any of these is our own private matter and choice. Some of us are happy to say pass the salt and pepper and be satisfied.  Some of us like bit of mint or cardamom in our tea of life. Perhaps there are favorite combinations that balance all the parts….tolerance with caution, cardamon and clove, lavender and honey, compassion with service.

But, what if we don’t try something just because we think we don’t like it? Or, because someone we know doesn’t like it? Maybe it’s no big deal. Maybe it is…..maybe it would enrich our experience. Maybe.

What’s in your spice cabinet? How do your thoughts bring out and brighten the essence of who you are?

“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour.”
William Cowper

“The person who sends out positive thoughts
activates the world around him positively
and draws back to himself positive results.”
Norman Vincent Peale

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