Is There a Recipe for a Perfect Life?
I love to bake. Each year during the Christmas holiday, I look forward to cracking open the well-worn spine of my Grandmother’s recipe book and searching for an untried delicious treat.
Her little hand is slanted elegantly, faded with age and hard to read, but I never mind the time it takes to decipher the recipe waiting for me.
By the time Christmas Day rolls around, I have trays and boxes of cookies piled up, waiting to be eaten.
If you’ve ever baked, or enjoyed baking, then you know just how hard it can be. By the time you pull that last, steaming cookie sheet out of the oven you’re exhausted. You’re covered in sweat and flour and your feet hurt. You never want to see another cookie again.But the next morning when you glance at your cooling rack piled high with your creations, you can’t help but to feel a little sense of pride. You’re ready to tie on the apron and be in the kitchen again.
I love to bake because it’s both an art and an exact science. If you don’t follow the recipe laid out for you, your cookies, cake, pie, or whatever else you’ve decided to make this time can fail miserably. They may even be inedible.
Despite this, there’s always room to play around, if you know what you’re doing, of course. You can substitute different kinds of flours. Different kinds and different rations may create different textures. You can also use different sweeteners. Maybe you like sugar, or honey, or agave.
I become very curious whenever I play around, because I never know if the recipe will come out better, worse, or just about the same.
Outside of the recipe, baking also gives you the freedom to express yourself creatively when it comes time to decorate your treats. Not surprisingly, this is my favorite part of baking. It’s the fine tuning. It’s the fun after all the hard work. Decorations are what makes your cakes and cookies look colorful and interesting. It’s what draws people in. Without them, our treats can fall flat.
For that reason, I think that life can be a lot like baking. There’s a pretty basic recipe and set of directions that each of us follow. We’re born, we grow up and go to school, we get a job. Maybe some of us buy a house and get married and have kids. Eventually we retire and we die.
In order to have a good life, most of us believe that we need to throw these things together. We need a way to make money so that we can eat and have a roof over our heads. We need relationships. We need to have friends and family and many of us believe we need a wife or husband, and eventually children. We also need to have some fun. Life can’t be all work, no play after all. We need things that we enjoy doing just for the sake of doing them. These are our hobbies.
So what is life’s most basic recipe?
- Work (a way to make money).
- Basic necessities to survive (food, water, shelter, healthcare).
- Fun and hobbies.
If you throw all of these things together in the big bowl that we call the universe and mix them up, you create a life.
Everyone’s life is a little bit different too. Some recipes consist of more work and other recipes are full of relationships and fun. As a result, the end product is always different. Each life has a unique blend of each necessary ingredient. Some lives come out flat and dull, the center of the cake has collapsed, so to speak. Other lives are beautiful on the outside, but mask a flavorless inside. And some, the most lucky of all, get the best recipes. Their cakes are delicious. They’re beautiful inside and out.
But while you can argue that some recipes are better than others, I began to wonder if there really was a recipe for the perfect life and if that same recipe applied to everyone.
After giving it plenty of thought, I came to the conclusion that no, there is not one perfect recipe.
Each of us have our own tastes and preferences. Some of us like milk chocolate while others choose to indulge in bitter, dark chocolate. Some of us like our desserts sickeningly sweet and others of us can’t stand more than just the necessary sugar and sweetness. We might like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream or we might hate ice cream all together.
How we chose to spend our days and our lives is very much the same. We all have our own definitions of success. We all have our own ideas of what constitutes a “good life.” For some people, living a good life means begin incredibly successful. They want to amass plenty of wealth and material goods. They want to have a big house and a fancy car and own a massive company with shares on the stock market. They may be willing to give up other ingredients along the way, such as relationships or fun. And that’s okay. As long as they’re okay with it. As long as they’re doing it for themselves.
Their cake may come out looking very different and tasting very different from yours, but it may just be their cup of tea.
On the other hand, the recipe for a perfect life for a young mother may involve a lot less work and instead requires a lot of fun and a lot of family time.
There’s a lot of noise out there on the Internet and in books and movies and blog posts. There’s a lot of formulas and ideas and motivational sayings that we believe will give us the perfect recipe if we just follow them.
But in reality everyone is different and who we are and what we want rarely stays the same as we get older. There is no one formula to follow.
Your recipe for the perfect life is bound to change over time. You might even experiment. An extra dash of family time here and extra dash of work there. Your priorities and goals and preferences can shift and so we must learn to modify our recipes as we go.
There will be a lot of trial and error. Sometimes our recipes will fail. Our cakes come out overdone or undercooked. Sometimes they’re too dry and sometimes they’re too sweet. So we step back and modify the recipe a little. And we continue to do this over and over again throughout the course of our lives until hopefully we take a bite of that cake one day and realize it tastes just right. At that moment, we can throw up our hands and celebrate. We’ve perfected our recipe of life. For now.
Because that recipe could change the very next day.
So is there one perfect recipe for life that everyone can follow to live happily ever after?
But most of us will keep trying to perfect our own anyway.