Have you heard the saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”?
That’s true. Have you ever considered that life is also like a cake?
When my siblings and I were younger, we used to gather around on New Year’s Day and watch Mom bake her famous spice cake. But that wasn’t all, everyone would taste each ingredient that went into the cake. Of course, everyone was looking forward to tasting sugar the most. But it was also fun to taste a pinch of baking powder and make a wry face…or to eat some flour and pretend it wasn’t that bad.
Even though we were crowding around the counter to taste cake ingredients, we were also learning valuable real life lessons that are just as relevant today as they were back when we were all eagerly awaiting the moment we could taste the sugar! Here’s the wonderful life lesson to be learned from the New Year’s Day cake bake: Life is a cake!
While we were tasting the ingredients, we would have to come up with situations, events or things that related to that particular ingredient in the prior year. For example, doing our “studies” (school work) would be like flour; there is more flour in a cake, than any other ingredient, just as there were lots of studies to be done during the year. But, let me ask you this, would you want to sit down to eat a cake that was as thin as a piece of paper because it had no substance (flour)? Probably your life contains some work you don’t particularly like, maybe it’s paperwork or washing dishes or doing maintenance around the house. In fact, it might be a combination of a number of things. This is the flour in your life.
Next, we might taste the baking powder. Ew… that is bitter! We would immediately recollect the things that were sad or bitter from the prior year. I remember more than one year when it was the loss of a dear pet.
When it was time to taste the sugar though, the atmosphere lightened, and cheerful voices would be calling out the sweet things that had happened the year before. Not only were we cheerful with the remembrance of all the good memories from the year before, but also with the expectation of soon being able to dip our fingers into the sugar.
With the cake finally mixed up and placed in the oven, we would talk about the importance of heat in the process of making a good cake because although cake batter is good, who would want to sit down to a scoop of cake batter? Well, maybe a small scoop, some licks and things like that…but after a tasty meal, the thought of a scoop of cake batter? So, into the heat it goes. Heat in your life may be the deadlines that put pressure on your performance. It could also be a tough situation that calls for your perseverance even above and beyond what is “required” of you.
Although nobody would want to sit down and consume a bowl of flour, eat a couple teaspoons of baking powder, spoon down a raw egg, or drink vanilla extract, the sweets are a greater temptation. Everyone…at least if they’re grown-ups, knows that if they attempt downing a bowl of sugar they’d surely feel sick. Yet, these same ingredients combined and baked can yield a delicious cake that would please almost anyone.
That is how life works too. All work and no play is very dull; while all play and no work is exhilarating at first, but can lead to depression and unhappiness with the lack of substance (flour) in your life. Similarly, baking powder is never fun to taste in life, but if we respond instead of react, then a sad or bitter experience can give us the chance to rise and grow just as the baking powder will cause the cake to rise. But herein lies the secret to growth: Cakes rise the most in the oven when they are subjected to heat! If you’re never exposed to a situation that puts some heat on you, if you never leave your comfort zone for the hot oven where you will feel the heat, then you’re basically cake batter, sitting on the kitchen counter of life.
Consider this: Next time you experience something bitter, look for the opportunity that can come from it. Next time you’re doing something monotonous, remember that you are adding substance to your life. Next time you experience something sweet, enjoy it to the max because there’s only so much sugar in every cake. And next time you feel the heat, at that moment you will know that it is your chance to rise.
If you live a balanced life and use all the ingredients put into your life in the proper manner, your life will be beautiful, just like the cake my mom still makes every New Year’s Day. By Ben McFie