Of late, I have been in search of the Perfect Belgian Waffle recipe. It has been a long and vexing quest. What is the existential meaning of this? How will it change the world? Why not instead search for a cure to some dreaded disease?
First, this Perfect Belgian Waffle recipe is something which I know can be achieved. That is because I’ve tasted it – in fact, I’ve eaten the Perfect Belgian Waffle several times over. Where? Would this be in Brussels or Antwerp or Ghent? No, it was at the Hotel Jackson in Wyoming where many perfect things can be found. Like the sunrise over the Grand Tetons. That is perfection. Or the sweeping view of a golden valley that lies below a 400-foot ravine that both terrifies and excites you as you sit astride a brown and black and very noble steed. That is perfection, too. As we enter another, possibly grand era in American history, will we treat it as an artful time of beauty and creation or just another series of ordinary, messy days?
Why Bother with the Search?
Why not simply call the hotel and ask for the recipe? One cup of this, one tablespoon of that and poof – there’s the perfect waffle. But then, where would be the fun of creation? If all we care about is the end, we miss what can be learned from a series of aborted journeys.
Perhaps that is the real issue as we sit on the precipice of the next decade.
Have I, you, all of us, been so caught up in the dénouement of things – yes, that big finish, the bottom line – that we have forgotten the art, the beauty, and the meaning that lies within the journey? Are we so outcome-based that we have become nothing but dust – dry as an Ezekiel bone – on the inside? What, if anything, does the expedition toward one perfect thing tell us about ourselves, our culture, our politics?
Number 1: It’s an art, not a science. For heaven’s sake, we can’t even spell Belgian/Belgium Waffle in America. There’s been quite a dust-up about it, but that perhaps is something we shall leave for another day. As each recipe is tweaked – (6 so far), more egg whites, add buttermilk, try Bisquick, no – it appears that waffle making is more art than science. The beauty in constructing this edible art comes in the process. We experiment, make a mistake, retreat, regroup, and then the inevitable:
We try again.
Similarly, are we willing to be patient with the political process? Could it be that we need a bit more comfort with trial and error? Our Republic is an imperfect and maddening form of government. But then again, what else out there shows greater promise? Younger Americans idolize socialism, but those of us old enough to have witnessed the ideological and literal poverty of life under that system know better.
Number 2: Why not just go to the Waffle House? In managing a staff of authors each day, I am led to wonder whether we have lost the understanding of the art in writing. Do we take the time to desperately search for the beauty that lies within a perfectly turned phrase or exquisite sentence that you can smell and touch? Or are we so riveted by proper comma usage that we no longer pay attention to the message that lies between the first capital letter and the period? Has our craft of writing become a visit to the Waffle House – a quick in and out and we’re done with it, already. Or do we approach the keyboard as an artist’s pallet with fear and trembling. Do we understand the power of our words to motivate, inspire, yes, even persuade?
Number 3: Are we OK with Being Wrong? Recently one of our authors at Liberty Nation eloquently wrote about baseball. He opined about the obvious but often overlooked dirty little secret that America’s pastime is a game of failure. Even the best hitters don’t bat 1000.
Likewise, when we enter the American political stratosphere, we must be prepared for loss and imperfection. We so desperately want the perfect president that when he doesn’t hit a homer at the plate, we become critical – even crestfallen. But as we’ve learned from this last season of Major League Baseball – the homer does not necessarily a good game make. Before an editor gets his or her mitts on that last sentence that, yes, defies the rules, let’s stipulate that nine innings of home runs are, well, boring.
The highest lifetime batting average ever recorded in Major League Baseball was .366 by Ty Cobb, whose career ironically ended during the other Roaring 20s, in 1928. If we have a president who bats .366, are we focused on his extraordinary ability, or are we spending most of our time looking at the two-thirds of the time he failed at the plate?
Before we know it, we are desperate to get our hands on that fast but rubbery waffle at the Waffle House. We gulp it down along with 2,000 other calories and rush out the door, then wonder: Was that really worth it? It was fast but was it good? Upon hearing that the wheels of our government turn slowly, a wise and wonderful friend often remarks that this is a good thing. Checks and balances are meant for pauses. Slow and stop can be just the perfect speed when it comes to changing the lives of millions of people. When did you last rush into anything meaningful, creative, or beautiful?
Tomorrow the sun will rise in 2020. As we all know, the sun makes its appearance every day. It can be just another 24-hour cycle. It can be quite ordinary – another visit to the Waffle House. But let us remember that the sun also rises over the Grand Tetons. The majesty of the dawn cresting over these mountains is captured in the shadows, the imperfections, and the gradual revelation of unspeakable beauty.
The sun can reveal another typical day or the grandeur and splendor of an exquisite moment to behold. So, as we sally forth in our search for the Perfect President, for an imperfect but glorious Republic, even something as small as the Perfect Waffle, we might pause to ponder the beauty of the journey in the decade ahead.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.