“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people
to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for the endless
immensity of the sea.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I came across this quote in a book I love entitled, An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler. It begins a chapter about what to do when cooking seems burdensome and distasteful (pun intended). It serves as a reminder that even things we love and feel passionately about, sometimes become a battle. For me, this quote offers insight into how we approach cooking, education and parenting – all things I am passionate about!
Though I love to cook, there are times when I definitely do not even like it. As Adler writes, “Food is what I love, and how I communicate love, and how I calm myself. But sometimes, without my knowing why, it is drained of all that. Then cooking becomes just another one of hunger’s jagged edges. So I have ways to take hold of this thing and wrest it from the claws of resentment, and settle it back among things that are mine.” So how do you love something that is causing you stress and anxiety? She suggests connecting with foods that have brought you pleasure in the past – this is where comfort food and “little luxuries” come into play. For me, that means breakfast for dinner; a simple spaghetti with good Parmesan, salt and pepper; or a cheese I love with baguette and a glass of wine. What does it mean for you?
When it comes to teaching and parenting, this quote holds even more meaning for me. It is so easy to get caught up in the rush of what we have to do and to assign kids (and ourselves) tasks in the service of this. When I am able to breathe and connect, then I can inspire my students or children. Then learning is no longer about completing tasks, but about curiosity and “longing for the endless immensity of the sea”.