Summer means certain foods, like coleslaw, and to me coleslaw is supposed to be that perfect blend of sweet and sour. I am not the type of cook who puts too much emphasis on precision, once I understand a recipe; and so it is a bit freewheeling when I make coleslaw. I grew up watching my mother mix up the dressing for the slaw in dollops – a bit of sugar, a big splash of vinegar and a scoop of mayonnaise and stir. Then taste, then a pinch of whichever until consistency and flavor are optimal. It is a fun challenge, which I have now taught to my younger son.
I’ve been thinking about this balance between sweet and sour in relation to moments in our lives lately; and like with coleslaw dressing how easy it can be to get just a bit too much vinegar or sugar in the bowl/moment. You think that the imbalance of sweet and sour has ruined the coleslaw, but not true. The great thing about this dressing is that it is so easily rebalanced – a dollop more mayonnaise for thickening and then pinches of either the sugar or dashes of the vinegar, depending if your balance went too sour or too sweet.
We think that our life is a bit more complicated than this recipe when it comes to keeping the balance of experience, but really it isn’t. We have control to add more sugar to a sour day or moment, or to back off on the sugar when a moment gets all saccharine on us.
We don’t have control over people piling the work on, or the loud person 3 cubes over, or the traffic – quite true. But we can rebalance the sweet/sour by conquering that pile of work to the best of our abilities, by humming a favorite tune, by breathing deeply and checking out beautiful landscaping while waiting in traffic.
I used to get so irritated when my husband would come home and the boys would jump up joyfully – I never got such a reception. But then I decided to take pleasure from their happiness that the pace of the day had changed, that daddy was home & the family dinner would be starting shortly.
Once I started working, I made sure to keep reminders of happy moments on my desk, right in my line of sight to give me a needed attitude adjustment in those sour bursts. Driving home, I found that keeping the back of my head in contact with the headrest of the car relaxed my neck and back muscles and kept me calmer as I inched my way home.
Sweet is better because of sour, we need them both.
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