Lessons on Slowing Down From Making Curry in a Hurry.

I had a curry incident last week.

The recipe promised to be foolproof: under 10 ingredients and ready in 20 minutes. Simple and easy, the way I like my cooking. What could go wrong.

At 19 minutes, I had a taste. WOW it was bland. And if you’ve had any curry, you know ‘bland’ is the last thing it should be.

Bubbling, bubbling, bubbling.

The curry bubbling away, I frantically opened the top 3 Google results from “easy spinach curry” and scanned the ingredients: of course each one was different.

Oh my god, do I have everything? I have some. But what’s the proportion??

Bubbling, bubbling, bubbling.

In a whirlwind of stress and confusion, I dumped in a random amount of tumeric and garam masala. After a quick stir, it was still lacking. CRAP.

My dad strolled in at this time: “Wa, smells good!~”

“NO IT DOESN’T” I said angrily, wresting with a jar of tomato sauce.

Bubbling, bubbling, bubbling.

Stressed that the curry might burn and then really be beyond saving, I gave the jar a violent twist. Pop.

Tomato. sauce. every. where.

I was ready to give up.

Wait.

What if I simply took the pot off the stove?

The rush was entirely imagined.

The bubbling was all in my head. I’d worked myself up into such a state racing against a deadline that didn’t exist. All I needed to do was take the pot off the stove.

Deadlines.

I’m not saying deadlines are bad. I use imagined deadlines all the time to create positive momentum, like in my routines.

But sometimes, the momentum topples over into a frenzied rush that can trigger the brain’s fight or flight mode. In this mode, we tend to rely on the immediate and reflexive.

That’s not always the best state to react.

  • When a business partner asks “can you do this for us?”, a hasty response to appear ‘efficient’ can mean over-promising.
  • Pressure from blue ticks on WhatsApp to respond quickly and appear ‘polite’ can mean careless words.
  • Hurrying to beat the clock on a check-out page can mean overspending.

Nearly all deadlines are negotiable.

Very few people will say “NO, YOU CAN NOT” to a polite “can I get back to you later?”

If later means responding with my best self, not my reflexes, that does more justice to everyone.

Turning off the heat might still have led to a crappy curry, but at the very least I would have had less tomato sauce on the walls.

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