The Path Of Acceptance

“When we cannot find contentment in ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.” ~ Francois de la Rochefoucauld

“What in the world did I get myself into?” she wondered.

A pair of fluorescent bulbs flickered overhead, buzzing their swan song as she stared at a stream of water filling the commercial-sized sink.

An icy wind rattled the window above the faucet — a sharp reply to her dull existence.  Instinctively, she pulled her frayed sweater tighter, closer.

She was used to the cold; for years, it pervaded every part of her being, inside and out — she combatted it by adding more layers.  Inside and out.

But now… thinking about tonight’s dinner menu… there was an unfamiliar warmth.

A fluke, actually.

The cook at the halfway house was lousy, and lazy.  Everyone complained about his cooking, but no one was bold or brave enough to confront him.  Until last night.

Armed with the knowledge that there were freezers full of roasts and steaks in the garage (a surreptitious bit of info gleaned from the underground) and a pantry filled with untapped possibilities (she’d peeked in it herself), she glanced at the pile of ‘glop’ in front of her and said (mostly to herself), “I can’t eat this.”

“What did you say?!” the cook challenged from the head of the table.

A voice from somewhere deep within her repeated, “I can’t eat this.”

There was no accusation in her tone.  Simply a line drawn.  And one she would never cross again.

Her housemates were aghast, then encouraged.  One by one, they broke the silence.

“I’m tired of eating this… stuff.”

“Me, too.”

“Yeah, me, too…”

She held her breath, waiting.

Mr. Lousy-Lazy-Halfway-House-Cook jumped up and snarled, “If you think you can do any better, here!”  He flung a set of keys onto the table and huffed out of the room.  Nobody stopped him.  It was culinary mutiny.

They turned to look at the instigator.

“Will you cook for us?” someone asked expectantly.

“Can you cook?” asked another, snickering.  A round of laughter broke out, then suddenly quieted.

She considered the task — and the group — for a moment.  Twelve hungry souls, including herself.  They needed more than food, but it was a start.

Grabbing the key ring before anyone else could, she shoved her chair back — away from the table… away from the glop — and led the band of misfit mutineers through the kitchen, out the back door, and into the cold.

Ignoring it’s sting on her layerless form, she inserted a key into the padlock and whispered, “Pandora’s Box or pirates’ treasure…”

The lock yielded and the group tumbled inside, searching for something — anything — palatable.  Freezers were flung open and oohs and aahs ensued as an arsenal of food revealed itself.

The truth came to light.

Mr. Lousy-Lazy had been holding out on them.

She turned off the faucet and plunged her hands into the soapy water.

Basking in the warmth for the first time in a long time, she thought about food.

And smiled. ~

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Our pasts produce shadows.

But hope… contentment… acceptance… produce light.

Even in a cold, dark kitchen.

Some of my most life-changing decisions have been made over a sinkful of dishes.

Enjoying breathing,

~ Kim

27 thoughts on “The Path Of Acceptance

    • Tracey, what a treat to hear that, considering you’ve just finished a novel! Storytellers just have to TELL — the stories are there, waiting to be written — and read. Looking forward to finding out more about your book!

      Thank you for visiting my world. :)
      ~ Kim

  1. Hey Kim!

    I was totally mesmerized by the story. In a way, I wanted to hear a lot more! I think this posting is bookworthy!

    Great, great writing!


    • Marion, thank you. I have a hard time containing words in one post sometimes — a good indication that there’s more to the story — and I appreciate your encouragement to make it book-length.

      That is my dream and I’m workin’ on it! :)

  2. Nasrine, confrontation was the hardest obstacle for me to overcome. For years, I lived by the motto “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” which meant that I never voiced my opinions, my thoughts, my feelings or contrary emotions — basically anything that might “upset someone.” I had to learn how to speak up — lots of trial and error along the way — but the freezer door is finally opened! (Ironically, I was the one holding it shut all along.) Thanks for your encouraging comments!
    ~ Kim

  3. ahhhh kimby, i want to come clean with so many cooks and people! i really needed to read this and all the wonderful comments. what an amazing visual i am getting regarding opening up the freezer and all the wonderful treats inside. i too hope i can speak with no “accusation in my tone” and simply confront whatever it is that haunts me. what a fun post to read, i am glad that everyone spoke UP!

  4. Kim, this is a stellar piece. It is a chapter in a book, a tear on my cheek, a gnawing at my soul as I picture the “glop” on my father’s plate in the God-forsaken place he now inhabits. No culinary mutiny there, though the bony hungry-soul residents would kill for the taste of a baked potato. (“They take “too long” to bake,” snarled the lousy-lazy-cook.) I guess they’re everywhere, those detached cooks, though it’s hard for me to imagine.

    I want to know more about the forks in your road, the dishes in the sink and the Pandora’s Box. . .

    • Sue Ann, my heart goes out to you… I hadn’t thought about this in the context of “institutional food” re: how close to home (and heart) that hit you, but you brought up an excellent point. Those who are in a position to feed others (especially when ‘others’ can’t speak for themselves) have a huge responsibility to be compassionate, or at the very least empathetic. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

      I DID think about this (before I published it) in the context of folks who have no choice whatsoever. Sometimes the only thing between you and starvation is the glop on your plate, and you’re grateful for it beyond belief. (Been there, done that, and ever mindful of it.) In spite of the irony of being a “food blogger” in a hungry world, I’m hoping to give back at some point in time. The foodie community has some excellent programs going in this regard and I admire those who have already stepped up to the plate, so to speak.

      Last of all (and I’m hoping the following link works), I was really heartened by a recent episode on Chopped. There’s hope for “institutional food” and it begins with our children. Educating them, feeding them well, and seeing others dedicated to their welfare will inspire the next generation of caring, compassionate cooks. No, make that chefs. :) (Thanks, Marc Murphy, for the link.)

      • Thank you for the link, Kim. You are so right—it has to begin with our children. I’m hoping we can leave them a luscious legacy that will plant itself in so many facets of their lives and culture. Keep inspiring us with those luscious photos. It is what drew me to your gifts and keeps me coming back for more. . .

  5. Oooooooo… YES!! what a story, Kim!! Wow! Such a jewel in the darkness. I am now THERE… right there with you… the light, the cold, the layers, the glop, the mutiny, the pirates booty. THIS is the beginning of a grand grand journey. I am now fully present, on the edge of my seat.

    Absolutely exceptional writing. THANK YOU!

    • Kathleen, I’m grateful for your comment/compliment. Truthfully, I’m terrible at accepting compliments, but I’m learning. :) Thank you for connecting with this story… with me… on so many levels. I appreciate your encouragement more than you know.
      ~ Kim

  6. AAAAWWWWWW, I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing many sinkfuls of dishes soon, I will remember this and make sure it’s always empty plates that come back to me along with satisfied customers!

    • Hi, Missy! So excited for you about your restaurant launch! What a great attitude you have about the menial side of things. I just KNOW you’ll do well and your food will be tasty and terrific!
      ~ Kim

    • Love your curiosity! Food bloggers always think in terms of possibilities, don’t they? :) I’ll post recipes connected to my Forks In The Road series eventually, but for now, let’s just say “comfort food, and lots of it!”

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