What's that you say? This isn't a picture of a microwave? You're right of course, I don't actually own one. And I don't long for one either (which isn't to say that I don't marvel at the speed of heating up leftovers when using one at a friend's house).
As the name "butter warmer" suggests, this is a small pot. I knew it was small from oogling it in photos over at Food52 (yes, my love began in a purely superficial manner, but it has since grown into something true), but even still, when I pulled it from its box, my first thought was: "Wow, this is really small. Am I actually going to use this? I love dipping silky smooth artichoke leaves in butter, but how often will I need melt butter for that?" But I'm finding that I'm using this new little beauty all. the. time. -- for a number of microwave-esque tasks and more: reheating coffee, making hot cocoa, cooking oatmeal, reheating dollops of soup too small to be considered "a cup," but too good to not consider saving. (This is said soup.)
My second thought was slight disappointment that the enamel was already chipped near the handle, even though my rational side is well aware that enameled products can chip and still work perfectly well. I can easily veer into perfectionist territory -- wanting things to be just so (and fixing them if they're not -- other people reorganized an already loaded dishwasher, right?), wanting dishes I cook to be executed perfectly (and overanalyzing why they are or aren't and what I would do to fix it the next time), wanting my thoughts to be expressed perfectly through my words (and running them over and over again in my head to figure out whether or not I succeed in my goal, even after I've already said the words or sent the email).
But for some reason I just did not want to return this pot and exchange it for a "perfect" one. For one thing, my husband and my daughter got it for me. He is my number one supporter in all of my kitchen adventures -- gushing over the successes, and gamely eating the failures that I deem only worthy for the trash can. I just didn't want to swap his gift for one that appeared to be more perfect. And for another, I felt it was a little sign, just for me, as a reminder to ease up on a drive for perfection.
Image via Cotton Bureau
See, I'm taking Rob Bell's e-course, a Practical Guide to Finding Joy and Meaning in Everyday Life, and in the latest lesson, we had an assignment to pick an object. Something that when we look at it would instantly remind us that we're all a part of something bigger than ourselves. Rob Bell says: "Your heart is where you pick up on what matters -- and what doesn't."
And a misguided drive for perceived perfection, well, that's one of those things that just doesn't matter. As my friend Hannah describes it, I too am "An aspiring good enough-ist." And I'm already succeeding. Last night I made a spectacularly mediocre dinner -- a vegetarian loaf and lumpy, gluey mashed potatoes -- and I laughed. I didn't try and create an action item list of things to change the next time, and I didn't start to question my prowess in the kitchen. I just thought it was funny.