I let go of a piece of perfection.
I wash my kitchen floor.
I don’t know when I last washed it.
How is that letting go of perfection?
Because I tend to let the scrubbing go until I can plant my knees on this mat.
Until I can do it up perfect.
So I tend to just not do it.
But today I buy a mop.
And while I dance with it, I dance with my words and thoughts.
I pay attention to the way light plays on the floor and the shine difference between the washed and unwashed.
I work my way around chair and table legs, scrape up a dried black blob of squashed blueberry with the back of a spoon.
I’m frustrated with my kitchen cabinets, the ones with wooden lazy susans installed on rigid steel conduit back in the 60s.
The ones that shed sawdust all over everything.
I think I stacked too many cans of beans and tomatoes on them in the past because the bottom shelf has slipped down to the height of a tuna can, and I’ve smashed my fingers in the door way too many times to count.
I want a new kitchen.
But for now I have to work with what I have.
I think about how I, like L.L., have been weighed down by the beans and tomatoes in my life.
How do I make beauty out of sawdust?
I imagine that I’ve finally stripped all the kitchen wallpaper. That I’ve painted the walls and repainted the blue cabinets, all–white?
I imagine a more efficient work space, and guests oooohing and aaaahing over my decorating skill and culinary art.
My husband laughs at my current obsession with Chopped. But I love to watch those chefs race the clock while they create beauty and flavor out of four mystery ingredients. They are culinary artists.
Speaking of art (this is how my mind jumps), I imagine holding my first novel or a book of poetry and reading rave reviews.
I see shelves lined with my books.
I imagine all the perfect ingredients for the perfect creative life at my fingertips.
So I can create beauty.
Time flies. I must hurry.
Then I remember L.L.’s words.
“This is the secret of the prolific writer. To agree to use small beans and the ingredients at hand. To cultivate out of potlucks and basement-bargains.”
I dump the soapy gray water in the snow and watch steamy fingers curl upward.
“In the writer’s life,” says L.L., “there are no rules about timing or quantity.”
“Write with what you have,” she says.
Maybe I have the perfect ingredients after all.
I pour a cup of tea and sit down to watch the birds.
Reflections on Chapters 5 and 6 of L.L. Barkat’s newest book, Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing.