Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich

Keeping in mind that I have had a little too much time to myself these past few days, let me indulge in a little bit of self-directed analyzing...

Have you (you have) ever known those People who, upon meeting them, allow for no doubts as to their nature? These People are so unapologetically themselves, with such a strong sense of self, that they leave with no questions about who they are. It's not that they necessarily have really strong opinions on the issues or even that they come off as especially assertive or tough. They are, to put it simply, wholly comfortable within their own bodies and souls. Nothing to prove, nothing to display, nothing to change here.

Among a few of the goals that I have consciously stated for myself, one of the fundamental ones is to one day be one of those People.

But, like many, I often lose myself to the situation--like any good chameleon, my colors will change based on my situation and the desires I feel projected upon me by myself and others. Personally, the bit that I've been chewing on a lot lately is this: How many seemingly opposing attributes can I try and cram into my body and soul before someone gets kicked out? How dichotomous can the nature of a person be before they inevitably are at odds with their own selves?

Take for instance, my potential choice of careers. I have spent the past three years working in a research lab trying to keep up with the fast paced and demanding field that is molecular biology. And so far, despite some hurdles, I've enjoyed it enough to consider taking it a step further and pursuing a higher degree in graduate school with the intent of one day entering the world of academia for good. So there's that as an option. But on the other hand...

...I'm going to India. To become a yoga teacher. And while these two fields may not necessarily war against each other, they tend to demand entirely different skills. Yoga philosophy encourages the student to let go, to stop trying to control the situation, to relax into simply being. Which is all fine and good until I walk into my lab and the type A perfectionist I-can-hold-the-world-up-all-by-myself-thank-you-very-much aspect of my personality comes roaring to the surface.

Up until about 6 months ago, I was a pretty good lacto-ovo vegetarian (okay, bacon was allowed but c''s bacon). Somehow I now find myself having conversations about the value of a good Pittsburgh rare steak and how to properly roast a whole chicken all while eating a delicious meal of beef tripe and tendon. The thing is, I feel like the vegetarian I once was is still lurking inside somewhere, and though I'm not quite sure where she went, I have a feeling she could easily resurface given the right environment.

The title I chose for the post alludes to the delicious combination of peanut butter and pickle that lends itself to a bizarre but wonderful experience. It doesn't seem like the ingredients should mix but there is perfection in the combinations of salt and sugar, cool and creamy found in this creation. So. Yummy. Seriously.

But I'm also reminded of a story one of my best friends told me about a meal she and her husband were preparing together. Every week, they will choose a recipe that sounds fun and proceed to make it together. The recipe they chose (though if you ask her, her husband chose, period) was for Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches. Presumably, this was recipe was read to be both saucy and delicious. At one point, as my friend later regaled to me, she was pouring--she'll mention how wrong she felt just doing it--root beer and enchilada sauce into a pan. After the addition of a few more ingredients this combination was to put on the pork in an au jus sort of situation. And it was, unfortunately, saucy not delicious. In this instance, two good ingredients did not combine to make a bizarre and wonderful experience. Though probably bizarre, the experience was mostly gross, later humorous, and a great example of how good things don't necessarily mix.

The question is this--can I still be one of those People with all these at-odds attributes (to this you might say that I've only mentioned a few and to that I plead a bit of laziness and an attempt at keeping this blog both tasteful and PG), or must I dig deeper to find that Real Self?

How does a person become a Person?

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