Today as I was about to scoop sourdough starter from its mason jar, I realized that my go-to ladle was in the dishwasher with pasta sauce on it. So I went to the silverware drawer and got the mismatched serving spoon.
I don’t know where the mismatched spoon came from. It might have come from a garage sale when I was setting up my first kitchen. It might have been my husband’s before we married. It might have been left by a guest bringing a dish to our house. It doesn't look anything like the spoons in our wedding stainless silverware. It’s just a stainless steel serving spoon that turned up somehow.
It’s quite handy having a mismatched spoon. I always take it to potlucks so if I forget to bring it home, it doesn’t matter. I also use it for any especially messy job I need a spoon for, such as scooping gluey sourdough starter. I don’t have to be careful of it.
As I was scooping my sourdough, I thought how much more interesting life is for the mismatched spoon than for the other serving spoons. Sure, the others get used when company comes over. But the mismatched spoon gets to travel to potlucks, see the world a bit. Also, the mismatched spoon is called upon for every interesting task that might not turn out perfectly. And all because I don’t have to be afraid of damaging it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fear. I’m afraid a lot. I’m afraid of fireworks. I’m afraid of dogs. For years I worked in an unexciting but fairly lucrative field because I was afraid to try for what I really wanted, to be a writer. I’d lived my whole life in the same area, played most things safe. But recently I’ve made some changes. I’ve reorganized my life to focus more on writing. I moved to a new place where I knew no one. I’m writing a novel, which always takes courage, since I might spend years writing with no publication to show for it.
Even if I might get banged around a bit, I’m trying new things--leaving the silverware drawer behind.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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