- Thoughts for inspired living

February 12, 2008


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:13 am

How many times have you heard these words at some gathering, “Oh, you’ll have to give me the recipe”?

The unstated part of that request, if sincere, is that person would like to replicate that pleasant experience.

Reminds me of a story . . .

We have a neighbor named Barbara who makes world class brownies. She makes them over the Christmas holidays and sends them around to neighbors or brings them to neighborhood gatherings. They are super yummy. Everyone asks Barbara for her recipe and she readily complies. The interesting piece of this story is that no one who uses her recipe can deliver the same results as Barbara. Is she holding out the secret ingredient? I don’t think so, consciously.

My suspicion is that Barbara and many others who do things well do have a secret ingredient – the energy they put into their project. I believe Barbara makes her brownies with love. There is a certain energy attached to love that doesn’t make it into the transcribed recipe.

When we attempt to replicate a previous experience, we are cheating the current moment out of its chance to create something novel and new for us. We are using a recipe that worked before but we are missing the secret ingredient – the unique energy that made that moment what it was.

Reminds me of another story . . .

Many years ago I was sitting with a very wealthy man who owned a chain of restaurants and a country club. He invited me to lunch because I was in the radio business and he wanted me to help him build a sound system for his country club’s dancing area. He mentioned that he had seen the exact set up he wanted when he was on vacation in Florida. He really enjoyed the experience and wanted to recreate it back home. He went so far as to inquire about the specific equipment they used, piece by piece and he had the specs and drawings for the sound booth and all the design elements. He wanted to know if I could help him replicate it. I told him I would investigate it further and get back to him.

I did my due diligence and told him that I could have the exact same thing built but was going to refer him to someone else. He wanted to know why. I explained that even if I replicated it down to the nanometer, it wouldn’t be the same to him and he would always think it was missing something. I suggested that when he first experienced this sound booth, he was on vacation and in a different frame of mind. The replica may remind him of the experience but it will never recreate that moment.

I have no grudge against recipes. I think they provide a framework in which to operate. I just notice their limitations. The Grasshopper gave me this note in September of 2001:

“Hard and fast recipes always get you a McDonald’s hamburger – nothing more.”

Sometimes we make an effort to put a new picture in an old familiar frame. For some reason it doesn’t work. It looks okay but it lacks the originality the old picture and frame had together.

Following blueprints, patterns, syllabi, tried and true methods, recipes, etc. are very practical things to do and have their place.

If you want something more than functional, you may want to pay closer attention to the present moment and what it has to offer; then allow yourself the freedom and opportunity to create a new, original recipe.

All the best,


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