Friday, February 08, 2008

Master This

Last year during my blue period, we drove to the beach for no reason in particular other than we love the beach. I brought my camera to get some shots of the sky and the sea, and I was walking back to the truck when this graffiti on the sea wall caught my eye.



I snapped a shot mainly because most graffiti at the beach isn't this lovely or diplomatically-worded. I figured the two words -- Master yourself -- were most likely a Gatorade slogan or something. A stupid one, because you can't master yourself. You aren't something aside from yourself. You're just you, a single entity. A work in progress. No one can master something that is forever unfinished, incomplete, under construction. And when you're done, you won't be around to master anything. Master that concept, pal.

Sometimes words stick with you, though. That phrase became a like a puzzle that through the winter I kept taking apart, analyzing and trying to fit back together in a different construct. Master = control? Master = gain expertise? Yourself = ego? Yourself = personal talent? What the hell did it mean?

I stuck a copy of the photo on the fridge, mostly as a reminder to master my snacking urges.

Fast forward to tonight, when I made chicken and rice for dinner. It's my own adaptation of the amazing arroz con pollo my Latina friends' moms would stuff us with when we were kids in South Florida. I've spent decades perfecting this dish; I could probably make it in my sleep. My guy, who loathes all chicken except maybe the occasional bucket of KFC extra crispy, loves my chicken and rice. I know because he makes those nonverbal happy-man sounds while he's eating.

Me, I always think I could do a little better with it next time. Because that's how I am. I know I'm never going to be a chef like my dad. I don't have the mojo he has that turns food into ambrosia. I do okay with baking, stir-frying and the occasional casserole, but I know I'll never be more than an ordinary, decent cook. That doesn't matter. The food and the family are what's important to me.

I was washing dishes when I looked over at the graffiti photo and thought Okay, at least I've gotten pretty close to mastering chicken and rice, does that count? That's when I finally solved the puzzle, and I laughed, and I decided to write this post.

So now I will pass long the words for you to ponder: Master yourself

17 comments:

  1. Master yourself... it could have all sorts of meanings to it~would it even mean the same from one person to another?

    I'm kind of reading it like if I can't handle who I am as a person, then until I can do that, I shouldn't worry about others doing the same.

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  2. Uh-huh. How 'bout if I master the coffee maker? I can do that.

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  3. sadly, my mind went right into the gutter as I dug up a memory from one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes. Sigh. I'm afraid to know what that says about me. LOL

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  4. Uh-huh. How 'bout if I master the coffee maker? I can do that.

    Hey. I mastered the art of nuking water and using one of the 'singles' bags. Otherwise I make it too strong or not strong enough, or I make more than I'll ever drink.

    ;)

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  5. I'm going to say that I had a strange sense of deja vu when I saw that photo message. Knowing it was taken at the beach fills in part of the puzzle -- the image (to me) looks like the crashing of a wave. That coupled with my (fialed) attempts to be a surfer in my early teens dovetails with the surfer lingo we used to use.

    I can't see that and think about how surfing was a question of mastering technique -- stance, location, timing -- and now how appropriate that is as a writer.

    I love when random elements on the internet and forgotten memories collide. Thank you.

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  6. mary21:43 PM

    May I please make a copy of the picture and post it next to my desk? I'm not quite sure what it means but my head and heart says it wants to be there while I work my Master's thesis, which is going oh so slowly.

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  7. Hey woman.....where can I email you some of my favorite, delisious and VETY eary recipes? I'd LOVE to help you wow the family! I got an A+ on my chili recipe in my last writing class.........long story but I'll share it if you ask!

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  8. Anonymous7:00 PM

    “Master yourself” is one of those phrases that could mean a lot of things. Master your skills/ abilities? Master your habits/actions? Master your mind/beliefs/opinions?
    No one can completely master any of these, but people should try. People should try to be good at their professions, try to act morally, try to have a sharp, fair mind, etc.

    Honestly, I think it’s a silly phrase because it’s so vague. And it sounds like it’s trying to be cool. Geez.

    There you go. An opinion from my pleasant side, and an opinion from my scornful side.

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  9. I can't master myself long enough to lose 10 pounds. How pathetic is that?

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  10. Shiloh wrote: it could have all sorts of meanings to it~would it even mean the same from one person to another?

    All part of the puzzle (evil chuckle.)

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  11. Charlene wrote: How 'bout if I master the coffee maker?

    As long as it's an easy one you should be okay. We had a coffee maker given to us once that made aligning the Hubble look simple by comparison. I donated it to the church and bought a Mr. Coffee.

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  12. Mel wrote: sadly, my mind went right into the gutter as I dug up a memory from one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes. Sigh. I'm afraid to know what that says about me.

    Hmmm. Says to me that you have a sense of humor, one of the most valuable personal assets known to man/womankind. ;)

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  13. David wrote: I love when random elements on the internet and forgotten memories collide.

    Me, too. Thanks for sharing your reaction.

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  14. Mary2 wrote: May I please make a copy of the picture and post it next to my desk?

    Absolutely.

    I'm not quite sure what it means but my head and heart says it wants to be there while I work my Master's thesis, which is going oh so slowly.

    Always listen to those voices when they chime in together. Good luck with the thesis, too.

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  15. tjwiccan1 wrote: where can I email you some of my favorite, delisious and VETY eary recipes?

    I do appreciate the offer, but I have to adhere to a lot of dietary restrictions for me, my guy and my daughter, so most regular recipes don't work for us.

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  16. Anonymous wrote: Honestly, I think it’s a silly phrase because it’s so vague. And it sounds like it’s trying to be cool. Geez.

    It annoyed me at first, too. I think maybe it's supposed to, like so many things that challenge our belief systems.

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  17. JC wrote: I can't master myself long enough to lose 10 pounds. How pathetic is that?

    Not pathetic at all. I've been battling the scale since my late twenties, and after so many years of losing and gaining you just get tired of fighting it.

    Now I concentrate more on eating healthy and trying to get regular exercise versus conscious dieting and weighing myself every day. The weight loss is slower -- painfully so at times -- but what I take off, so far I'm keeping off.

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