Friday, 28 May 2010

Just Add Water

A while ago I heard about this clever company that came up with a new pancake mix in the 1940's. All you had to do was add water and hey presto .. pancakes. Now being an enthusiastic cook, the thought knits my brow. "Water? what else is in there?". But I understood the convenience and of course the company thought that they had hit on culinary alchemy. Somehow when it came to the sales launch, shoppers stayed away. People (or in those days, women) found it too easy, too strange and alien. So a clever duck in the company changed the recipe, now you had to water and ... an egg. Sales shot up at a blistering pace. They didn't understand it but were pleased, the mix was finally off their sorry hands and into those of the fairer sex.

What they forgot to tap into at the beginning, was reality as seen and known by people at that time: Nothing is that easy, some work goes into achieving anything worthwhile. Which makes me think of the world we live in today. Everything is at our tiptap fingertips. We may lament about the declining economy, petrol prices and finding the right shampoo - but on the whole, we've noticed that those who do complain, are hardly the ones lying in the street or counting loose change under a streetlamp.

Yet while we we have so much more materially - the fear is always driven into us that we have nothing, not really. That life is not as it should be. The spouse is not quite perfect enough or psychic enough to anticipate each and every need. The job is too stressful. Time is far too fleeting. The last one is the only one I agree with: Pardon me for my absence.

During all this fear-mongering, the "counter message" we get to balance this out is: More. That's their answer. As if by just adding more (water) we will be gifted with an instant life. A life other than the one we borrow. I use "borrow" here, because that is how it is. We don't keep life forever; we are entrusted with one for a short while: Why then are we so determined to remain dissatisfied with this gift?

I feel as if people are bombarded by their own side sometimes. Good, intelligent people are buying into the idea that they are not quite capable, because they are unhappy - and they are being sold that idea by OTHER human beings. An endless spiral of enabling - the drug is "This is not good enough and neither are you".

Perhaps they are right to be unhappy! Or dissatisfied. It's good to know when something needs fixing. The only harm occurs when they barely scratch the surface of why there is discontent; when they use the outer life: appearance, career and status as the passage to contentment. The truth is, all those things only equal a material life - which no matter how much you improve upon will never bring true fulfillment.

Deep down we know this, yet we still forget. The other messages are too prevalent. Why? Happy, fulfilled people are rarely voracious consumers, it helps profit margins to keep us in a state of constant need. I don't think that those who enable this process truly mean harm - but let's face it, they are partly responsible. Though not completely.
The greatest opportunity and thus the greatest test lies with us. Taking responsibility for why we are and what we value is not the easiest thing. Sometimes it can strike like a lightening bolt - when reality forces us to see beneath the veneer. Most of the time, it takes work, real hard introspective work. We actually have to sit down in a quiet spot and think. Shut away the world and all the images dangled before us. Just sit and think and ask every question we have avoided or neglected. Remember our question mark? It comes in very useful during those tender, worthwhile moments. This life is so precious and it floats by in the blink of an eye; I hope we can give it the time and thought it deserves, soon and often. Throw out the pancake mix. Start from scratch.



Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Bravo. So well said.
And I made a chocolate cake yesterday. From scratch.

Laurel said...

Ugh-this is too true strikes pain and fear-you are so so insightful, I just wrap myself around these words and sigh .
Idon't know what drives my happiness right now but I am hopeful it becomes less about comparing and more about just being good with all I have. The pressures are enormous to be this or that , have this or that, and to be a follower. I need to re read this a few times. :)
I love you tons my friend. This is beautiful. You are gifted.

Anonymous said...

I thought about you today, and see, a new post. Why is it always that your words / thoughts leave me so speechless??! Nevertheless, I thank you very much for this "Pancake" reminder. XXX, C.

Jacqueline said...

Hi there Clarity,
It's so good to see you back again. I hope that all's well with you.
Pretty much everything we eat is made from scratch, although I do understand tht you are going far deeper than just the food we eat. I guess we are all a little guilty of the materialistic but, as i get older, I do see a lot of these things as just that....THINGS....that mean very little. One gets a quick buzz from the purchase and then, we are looking for the next new thing.
....and, of course, none of it makes us happy. It is the free stuff that does that.
You always have thought provoking posts that bring me back to earth with a resounding bump.
Enjoy the weekend, Clarity. XXXX

La Petite Gallery said...

i couldn't have said it better.

I make alfrado sauce it's so easy and fresh. It takes 2 minutes.
Why don't people cook. zI keeps your mind off other things. some people Read I cook.

Eugene Lim said...

So insightful! I love baking from scratch, it gives you such a sense of satisfaction to take the time to do something and do it well. Anyhow, thanks for visiting my blog (: The photo of the smiling girl was by GĂ©raldine Dormoy over at Cafe Mode, you can visit her blog here -- Have a lovely day!

Anonymous said...

What an outstanding post. Very thought provoking. And it's great to see you posting again.

VictoriaArt said...

Dearest Clarity, I am so happy to see someething new from your pen....
I am glad you found a moment to fullfill our collective desire to listen to your thoughtful notions. I ponder about it often, all the things we seem to need or want to have... No matter how we turn it, true satisfaction with life comes from within! I feel this as I get older, perhaps critical consuming is particularly trying for the young and innocent, since they tend to listen easier to the lure of fast and easy!
From scratch reminds me also of the love we put into something home made.

Thanks, love!
And a sunny weekend to you!

Something is in the mail for you!


Heavenly Housewife said...

Welcome back! You have been missed daaaaahling!
Its like I alwyas say to my hubby, I am happy, I don't need anyone to tell me I'm not. Yes, I do always love a nice new toy (ipad :D), but I know that i'm just as happy with out it. What really sucks is when people who are different then you try and tell you that you are unhappy in order to make themselves feel better. Thats happened with me a few times.
The reason I'm happy: why not? Its a choice.
Have a wonderful weekend, and dont go away for so long. I miss u.
*kisses* HH

Deidra said...

WOw! I'm so glad you came back here to say this. So well said, and so true.

I was thrilled to see you today, visiting over at my place. I could not wait to hop over here and say hello!

La Petite Gallery said...

I just read the Post about you Dear Renee. My Daughter's Name
is Renee and I could't help crying, That was very beautifu.


Barbara said...

It's nice to have you back, Clarity! We missed you. Your posts are always thought-provoking. This one, it seems to me, is bascially about jealousy. Wanting what you think someone else has....perfection and happiness.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect. And happiness is what you make it. The simple life is gone. Life is complicated and becoming more so by the minute. While it would be nice to sit and contemplate your navel, who has time? When you're young, you are trying to support your family and keep your moral compass at the same time. Happiness takes second place.
There's a little more time when you are my age. You become more mellow, calm and patient. I would love to say we can be happy with our lives now that there is time, but illness strikes so many of us and you have yet one more fight on your hands.

I think I am comparatively happy with my cannot ever be free of worry, but just try to make the best of each day. One day at a time.

Wine and Words said...

Very wise,as your name would indicate. A dose of clarity this morning was just what the doctor ordered. I am excited to be more conscious about keeping us in want, driving our needs, is what plumps the bottom line. I do not wish to be so played. Contentment, is worth fighting for.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I will use my fighting words in this regard also :)

Clarity said...

Dear all, thanks for the welcome back, xxx
Pamela, merci for the double-header response, lovely.
Laurel, thank you dear, for getting it, sometimes we can avoid the important questions and just rush by.
CT, thank you, humbled.
Jacqueline, that is a big compliment, many thanks.
Yvonne, agreed, "too easy" is a distraction sometimes. Thanks for the note about Renee.
Eugene, thank you.
Des, much appreciated, and thanks for the welcome.
Victoria, thank you for that, x
HH, what a sweet welcome, thanks
D, pleased to have resumed, thank you.
Barbara, it is a choice as with anything, some things are very worth taking time out for whatever your age.
Words - very kind of you, thank you.

French Fancy said...

How lovely to see you back again, Clarity - and with a fabulous new look. I agree with everything you have put here - all my working life I was busy acquiring all the latest things and was never happy. Now I live the simple life out here in France I do feel much more tranquil and calm. I now laugh at things like people queuing up to buy the latest Apple gadget, when once that would have been me - not in line - but at the store on the first proper day.

You are so right - question everything.

I do hope you stay longer in the blogosphere this time, my lovely friend.

Jennifer said...

Hello!! It's been way too long. I've barely hung on with blogging lately. I really love this post. My husband and I have been talking about this a lot...trying to figure out what should stay and what should go in our lives. Trying to live according to our values and not getting swept up in needing all the things we want :)

I've missed you too!

La Bonne Vivante said...

gorgeous, piercing prose. You are so right, and we do forget...

Here's to pancakes from scratch.

Lovely, lovely, blog. I am now a follower.

Dustjacket Attic said...

That was really spot on, so well said and thought provoking.

I think I may need to link this one.

Hope the red turned out just as you wanted, mine is like a burnished copper colour...just love redheads.

I was so pleased you found that old post and it made you smile.

Jeanne said...

I love your words of wisdom Clarity...great post.
You got me right here....

Sometimes it can strike like a lightening bolt - We actually have to sit down in a quiet spot and think.

Shut away the world and all the images dangled before us.

Just sit and think and ask every question we have avoided or neglected. "

This life is so precious and it floats by in the blink of an eye; I hope we can give it the time and thought it deserves, soon and often.

Throw out the pancake mix. Start from scratch.....

Well said...thank you!!


Notjustnat said...

Dear Clarity, thanks for dropping by my blog and left such nice comment. I love reading your blog. I can clearly see that you love writing and it's interesing one too. Thanks for sharing - Hugs Nat

Anika said...

That's a fantastic message right there, and so perfectly delivered. I'm humbled by your post.

Seriously well said. And I'm with you, I like to feel like I worked to achieve something (whether materialistic or culinary or etc)

So thanks for giving me a moment of clarity ;)

p.s. yes, that excerpt on my blog is creative fiction....I was terribly inspired one day and could not go to bed until I penned it all, crouched over in the semi-dark haha

The Bumbles said...

Ah - so true. I was sitting here at my desk this morning at work staring at the little hour glass on my computer screen, waiting impatiently for a program to open. And I thought that although it was a small delay, it is a waste of those precious minutes in my LIFE - that could be spent doing something way more important for me and mine.

One thing in your post that struck me was the part about happy people not being the best consumers - made me think of A Brave New World where they created people specifically to consume specific items to keep society running along smoothly and without chaos. But no one was happy - they were just too programmed to realize it. Give me the willies.

Jeanne said...

Thanks for your visits and kind words

kj said...

aaah, what a great analogy (or is it metaphor?) you are so right and this is so thoughtful.

happiness is an elusive state for most people, i've found. but for a long time i've wondered: but what if you ARE happy and you don't know it?!! i think that is so possible.

thanks for your visit to my place, on behalf of emily r. i have wanted to connect and visit with you more often so i'm glad to be here.

you are a good writer, clarity!


Cheryl Lynn said...

I tried some of those instant pancake mixes and they failed miserably in my book. I still like the preparation of my "pannie cakes," it's like therapy. So I make them from scratch.

Wonderfully lovely article and thank you so much for stopping by for a visit.

Hugs and kisses!

lostpastremembered said...

It has been a while... charging batteries can take time. You are a wise Yoda-woman about things that are too simple. There is a satisfaction that comes of taking time to add elements, to be the creator not the enabler. Even the appreciation of art or nature needs more than a glance or so much can be missed. Grab-it-and-go has done much to destroy us. You and Dominique Browning should meet, she speaks eloquently on many of the themes you touch upon.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

How little we need to be happy. The less I have, the more unburdened, the happier. Leaves me more time for complicated, delicious recipes!

Janet said...

Thank u so much for popping by my blog today!
Thank u too for your inspiration and wonderful message!

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Clarity,

What a wonderful thought provoking post and thanks for sharing.
Most of what I make is from scratch, I think everything tastes so much better.
Many thanks for visiting me and I hope that you are having a lovely week


drollgirl said...

it seems like most folks are always chasing after more: more of this, that, and the other. it is a frenzied activity of always looking for something better, stronger, faster, etc. i fall into this trap instead of being content with what i have.

Manju said...

people these days just want the biggest rewards with the least efforts possible, it's a sad mentality.

i'm stuck somewhere between work and exams these days D: boo, so i dont really have time for anything else atm.

i hope you've been well :)


Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Hi dear Clarity...nice to see you back with your words of wisdom...You always give us something to think about!!! I did have a chuckle though about the spouse not being psychic enough ha ha!!!
I have just received the recipes you asked for and will try to make them and put them up...
As for the was just squeezing them (as in the post) adding sugar (to taste) and then mineral water/soda water...nice and easy!!! Have a wonderful Friday...Dzintra♥x

Clarity said...

Thank you all for your intelligent and kind comments, which have made me think further on this.

Lostpast, never been called a "wise Yoda-woman" before but accepted with gratitude ;)

Couture Carrie said...

Beautifully written, darling!
And I love all these vintage ads!


Mary said...

I really enjoyed the read this morning. Years ago I taught my daughters measurement by making pancakes on Saturday morning. We don't eat a lot that comes from mixes. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

Dan said...

Some skills are fast departing and others re-discovered daily. Time to go bake a cake (from scratch).

Anonymous said...

I am boring.
I make everything from scratch..........always.
Love your musing which soar from the mundane to the miraculous.

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

G'day Clarity...just calling in to let you know I have posted a recipe up for lemonade on my dolce vita...Have a wonderful weekend...Dzintra♥x

Mary said...

I'm just jumping in to thank you for the birthday wishes. Hugs and blessings...Mary

The Anthology said...

You're so right -- it's so important to remember how short life is. And lately it's been feeling especially short (is that a sign that I'm getting older? Ack!).


Hanako66 said...

this is wonderful, you have such wisdom! I'm glad that you are back as well:)

highlandwriter said...

just add water... those pancakes kinda remind me of those spongy sea monkeys one used to be able to order off the back of cereal boxes and things! :-D

Robyn said...

the secret to happiness is ...
just choose it - be happy right now - just do it ;)

i don't think we need to start from scratch... everything we desire is within our reach as it is in our minds and therefore can be changed in an instant.

i like what you have written here and i've enjoyed reading it :)

on another note... I rarely see the green sea glass and I haven't found any red as yet - the dominant so far is amber and brown.

best wishes

Lori ann said...

There you are. :)

This reminds me of the slowfood movement. Being mindful is a good thing, and there really is no short cut to that. Great vintage photos to go with the words, you are a wonderful writer my friend!
♥ lori

Clarity said...

It is a compliment to read what is in your heads re. this.

Ewix, you made me smile.
Dzintra, thank you for the lime-ade recipes.
Mary, sounds like a beautiful memory.
Well done, Dan.
Kelsey, older is good, consider the alternative.
Hanako, thank you, both times.
Highlandwriter, how odd :)
Robyn, interesting, but big choices need to be backed up with self-knowledge. Thank you for the compliment.
Lori, very sweet, thank you.

Anika said...

hey sweetheart, thanks for your lovely comment on my blog...I was beyond flattered.

Hows everything going for you? Hope you're having a fantastic weekend :)

p.s. check out my blog...I'm doing another giveaway...

Lori said...

What a great post! You are truly a wonderful writer and so right on with your point.

Purple Flowers said...

I don't think I need to add anything to the 'mix' ;)
You've said it all my friend.

Keith said...

It was cool to see a new post from you. I came back to blogging a couple of weeks ago. It's good to be back.

Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog, and what I see I like. In a society bombarded with imagery it becomes especially important to take a timeout once in awhile and re-evaluate what you believe and what is real. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Dear Clarity,

Thank you for your comment. I don't think I've going to return to blogging on Blogspot, I've beeen there for quite a while and I thought it was time for a change.

The waiting by windows, I thought was particularly relevant since the theme of the story was of the girls who waited by their windows for the policebox to fall out of the sky/Pan to return from the heavens. The window I suppose is the threshold they cross to enter the world of the unknown. Personally I don't think there is anything passive about Amy Pond or Wendy Darling as they are both strong female characters, who make the decisions to leave their old lives behind and embark on a new journey.

The Girls Who Waited is not a film. I apologise for the confusion. It is is merely the title of the story. But I do recommend watching the live action film of Peter Pan if you haven't already, it's beautifully filmed and portrayed.

Thank you for reading :)

Haute World said...

What a great post. I think it's ingrained in humans to strive for something, otherwise life wouldn't be that much of a challenge. Those that have seemingly fulfilling lives end up self-destructing because they are merely surviving instead of actually living. I will say that those pancake mixes are evil. The ones they sell here require you to add only milk. Very suspicious...

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Oh - well said. Sometimes I look inwards and see 'want, want, want'. Looking forward to winning a small lottery and remove want from my vocab, saying have have have instead.

Elisa Day said...

You are an amazing writer!
you asked about the shoes in the trees. I dont know why they are everywhere. There is several stories about them. One is that the people who live there like it so much they dont want to leave.

Anika said...

hey hey gorgeous girl...

where are you???

miss you!

if you've got a spare mo, check out my sale blog (, I've put up some pretties for sale :)

ciao bellisima

Dumbwit Tellher said...

You are so clairvoyant - what you've written about is what has been on my so much over the months. I'm afraid we could have a conversation that would go on for hours if not days. Your writing pours directly from your heart and what you express is so meaningful. Thank you Clarity. I hope that we all find peace in our daily lives and free from our own greed.

All my best to you for a lovely Sunday. x deb

Phoenix said...

God, I loved this post. I read it before but didn't have time to comment and now, two weeks later, I'm adding water to your comments section ;)

I think when we feel unhappy in our lives, our automatic assumption is that we are unhappy because there is lack. Because there is not enough. But not enough what? Instead of realizing that what we don't have enough of - gratitude, patience, love for our neighbors and ourselves, confidence, usefulness - we buy useless crap that we think are wonderful metaphors for gratitude, patience, love. But why go for the metaphor when you can just have the direct thing? We forget and reverse it... a cute sweater doesn't mean confidence, CONFIDENCE means confidence.

And so we buy, and consume, and need more each day.

So sad - but so true.

PS I'm backed up on emails as well - but I haven't forgotten about our conversations! ::hugs::

The Sophisticated Aesthete said...

Dear Clarity,

I fear I disagree with you on some points. I believe that everyone has the right to be unhappy; just because someone's not dying from starvation does not mean they're not allowed to be upset by losing their job. Am I never allowed to cry because there are people who are in a worse situation? Do I have to smile all the time, because I'm not dying yet? Everything's relative – even the way we measure hardship in life. That's what makes us human. Experiencing unhappiness helps us appreciate happiness.

Another thing that makes us human is always wanting 'more'. Of course I think you are right, we shouldn't be dissatisfied with what we've got, but at the same time, we must not stop striving. As soon as do that, life loses its meaning.

Also, I don't understand why everyone always says material things don't matter. I agree they should not be valued more than spiritual matters, but in my eyes they are equal. We are part of a material world, after all. For example, how you look does matter, because it is part of who you are. Of course it's not more important than how you behave, but it's still part of you. We're no astral beings, after all.

I hope that all made sense. I've got one question though:
Clarity, what do you see when you look at the people around you? Do you shake your head sadly at the decline of humanity and the terrible things people do to each other, or do you smile at how wonderful life is and what miraculously beautiful beings we are?

Clarity said...

FrenchFancy - tres charmant, merci.
Lori - that is humbling, thank you
Purple Flowers, sweet of you, x
Keith - thanks and welcome back

C. Taylor Brown - You got it in one. Welcome and thanks again.

Haute World - indeed, striving is beautiful when the priorities are valid. Milk? Something fishy about that ;)

K.B. You made me smile... and laugh.

Elisa - so sweet, thank you for the whimsy too.

Anika - I'm here, just developing "gorgeous" insomnia while working, x.

Debbie (Dumbwit T), I concur and am glad you have shared these thoughts - no clairvoyance involved . Thank you too for the marvellous compliment, I am touched.

Phoenix, thank you - The metaphor is a capsule that fits. About email: I owe you one, do forgive me Tracy C

Clarity said...

Dear Sophisticated Aesthete:

Many questions and much debate. I appreciate you taking the time to write all this. Although at some point I felt that perhaps you were reading another post. Striving is actually encouraged, it’s the goal that is held to light.

Where we fundamentally agree to disagree is that you see material things as "equal" to spiritual things. Material things fade or disappear, Sophisticated a.

Does that make you less valuable when that part of you goes?
You define your own world, inner or outer, if you see it as “Material(istic)” then that is your prerogative.

As for crying, feel free to cry. I never denied it of myself or others. The point here is that one should spare a thought or two to others once in a while. It might lend perspective.

You’ve asked me how I see the world and people; from the first time you commented on a previous post to now - I see it and them in exactly the same way. People are good (essentially), they all find their own ways in an imperfect world. That’s what this post this, my own way and the spelling out of those thoughts. Hope that helps to clear some things up.

Fifi Flowers said...

Welllll... in my house there are toaster and microwave pancakes... it's all about quick and easy mornings!

Ed Pilolla said...

sit in the silence. experience the silence of life. feel our life energy. feel the pain. we have so much. yet we medicate. yet we yearn. we are content with what we have. other times we aren't. lots of times. these are the questions to ask, the situations of our lives to ponder. life is short, yet there's time enough for everything. perhaps.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Thank you, dear one. Your comment meant so much to me.

Hope you are well and enjoying your summer.

Catherine xx

The Sophisticated Aesthete said...

Thank you for taking the time to reply thoroughly to my comment. :)

Keith said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. It was great hearing from you. I do love your blog. It will be cool when you get a chance to do a new post. I enjoy what you do here.

Dustjacket Attic said...

re comment, will have to dig that post out and put it up.

indigotangerine said...

ooh marvelous post.
First off, I too remeber that story about the instant pancake/cake batter and it has always been something that I've often thought about. Secondly I am definetly gtuilty of dissatification. I'm always thinking If I could just get my GPA up .02 points or my SAT score up just a little bit.... Everything is just a little bit off...
Finally in response to your comment (i know late response) Banagrams is this marvelous game that is rather like scrabble but much easier and faster. Instead of a group of people playing off one central board and scoring points every player gets their own mini "crossword" board and are merelyl trying to use up their tiles. In response to your second question I have never tried the goat cheese strawberry recipe with splenda before, I must admit I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners, but I'd imagine it'd work similarily as long as you were okay with the splenda flavor. I used grainy sugar, not powdered.

kj said...

clarity, friend of renee's!

i'm glad i stopped by here this morning. what a good piece of writing and i agree totally. the illustrations you use to make the point are perfect.

i am not able to operate as though happiness is simply and totally a state of mind, although sometimes i am. challenges happen. but complicating it with 'more more' is not the right road, and you've said that oh so well!


VictoriaArt said...

Sweet friend, we are off to Europe, I am under suitcases and boxes, slowly sinking....

Come and visit once in a while, I keep a journal on the blog!

Be well and have a great summer!

Yours, Victoria