Unusual Wisdom from the Kitchen

“The most important part of my personality as far as determining my success, has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.”

~Larry Ellison

Image source: siliconbeachtraining.co.uk
Growing up in a middle class family in a developing country, especially in the community where I spent my childhood, one of those things you had a regular encounter with was the kerosene stove. Those wick-ed little monsters that almost always left your pot’s underside caked with soot. After each cooking, you had two options: scrub off the soot immediately or — if it’s not much — leave it till later. Whichever option you choose, your nails are sure to turn black at the end of the day. 

Over the years, different types of sponges have been developed to make the task easier and more enjoyable — as much as something terrible can be enjoyed. The best one on the market at the moment — mum prefers it and it’s efficient too — is a fibrous mass of thin metallic threads. The only problem it has is it’s inability to remain usable after coming in contact with water once, how ironical for a cleaning material employed in the kitchen.

One way mum sought to fix this problem was to leave it in water. This method worked, retarding the rate of rusting but not as much as I believed could be, although I understood the method to be counter-intuitive — knowing water to be one of the principal elements required to initiate rust and would have liked to try some other means, but mum would not be swayed, seeing as her method was working and me not being able to do any better. I no longer gave much thought to the matter myself, I mean what’s a little piece of sponge compared with all the more important issues I’ve had on my mind, ryt?

A few weeks ago, I decided to not carelessly drop the sponge on the sink as I’d always done, but dry it out carefully instead and…you guessed it, the life span has extended exponentially. By questioning what was popularly held to be right, I achieved more. Had I simply gone along with the status quo, sponge would still keep getting wasted.

This seems a trifle issue, this is not a piece about sponges or growing up in developing countries, it is about the human condition, our need for development and improvement by means of constant questioning and reappraisal: of values, ideals, beliefs, methods, norms and all else. In order to progress, we must not be content with what works or appears to work, we must do this with such gusto as if to ascribe to it some essence of a divine injunction.

 At the same time, we must ensure that we not only seek for the sake of it, but put what we find to good use, regardless of whether or not it turns out palatable or otherwise…


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