Rocking Chairs and Banana Bread

I’m in a worrisome way folks. It’s because I created a baking disaster. The kind of baking disaster that makes you think about your own mortality.

What? You know you do this too.  And if you don’t, I don’t want to know about it.

So there is this quote. An adage, if you will. It’s in a movie I didn’t see and a white dude who made first a pile of cash for his athletic prowess and then by motivating folks apparently said it. The thing is, he’s wrong. And I feel pretty confident in saying that not simply because he was sentenced to 7 years for a pyramid scheme. (It always comes down to following the money. Every dang time.)

Glenn Turner, of cricket and motivational speaking fame, once said: “Worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

And while I appreciate the point Turner is making, that worrying about things is unproductive and that time would be better spent in action, I think he’s missing the point.

Have you ever sat in a rocking chair? Rocking back and forth for a long, long time? A few things happen if you do.

The gyroscope of yourself eventually rights itself. The angst is soothed, the anxiety is quieted, the fear is replaced, to some extent, by peace.

And the process ends up moving you from where you started to a different place.

I know this is true because I rocked three babies to sleep. Rocking a non-sleeper to sleep is a process of rocking back and forth, back and forth for a long, long time; running into the wall opposite of you; standing up and pushing the chair back to somewhere near its original spot; and starting all over again.

Rocking back and forth may seem like it doesn’t take you anywhere, and it is true you don’t end up going anywhere new. But you do creep forward. And the process is a calming one.

And what does this adage have to do with dying and baking disasters?

I made banana bread muffins yesterday.

Banana bread muffins is my thing as a mom, even though I don’t really like banana bread. It’s the thing my kids will probably reminisce about when they gather for my memorial. “Remember how Mom always made us banana bread muffins and she’d stir chocolate chips into half the batch for Oldest and cinnamon in the other half for Middlest and Littlest?”

I have a favorite recipe and although I have tried new-fangled ones, its the old, batter-spattered one I always return to. For my kids, banana bread muffins are tasty reminders that I love them and that they are from a home where fresh from the oven baked goods are the norm.

And so yesterday I made muffins. Half the batch I sprinkled with mini-chocolate chips and half I sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Then I carefully swirled the batter in each muffin cup so that the tasty bits were spread throughout each muffin. I put them in the oven, set the timer and went about the evening stuff. And when the timer dinged, I pulled out a dozen banana-scented hockey pucks.

Funny how most things in life turn out better when you remember to add a leavener.

Mister Soandso saw my dejected expression. “They still taste good, hon.”

“Yes, but I’m pretty sure this means that I’m going to die flying to Denver on Thursday and my children’s memory of me will be how I made them banana bread hockey pucks.”

I am afraid to fly. Not to the extent that I refuse to fly or that I need to take prescription medication, but the whole time I am flying, I am on the alert, like a cat waiting for a mouse to appear simply because it happened once.

I have flown in terrible weather, with terrible turbulence. And while I know all the statistics about the relative safety of flying and how I am in far more peril driving to the airport than in flying, well, I know all the statistics.

Because people like me? We remember the stuff we read and we also remember which mental filing cabinet drawer to pull those statistics from…so the entire take-off, I’m listening to landing gear lifting and flaps moving. I’m gauging the angles and the speed and I’m holding my breath and the arm rest. The flight is no better. I listen. I listen to engine noise, people’s conversations, metal moving against metal. And then landing, it’s like taking off but in reverse.

I worry the whole flight. I rock those statistics back and forth in my mind in hopes of getting to a slightly different place.

I worry about trusting someone else with my life. I worry about trusting a machine to protect my flimsy body. I worry about other people’s actions.

I worry about my life’s leavener.

So this Thursday as I drive to the airport and then board my flight, you know I’ll be thinking very hard. I’ll be remembering the number of domestic airplane crashes since 1950 and the number of fatalities per airplane category. I’ll be thinking, rocking back and forth in my mind between stories of disaster and stories of miracles.

And I’ll be thinking of the banana bread muffins left on the counter for my children to nibble on.

3 thoughts on “Rocking Chairs and Banana Bread

  1. Now I’m going to bake muffins before I leave for a flight on Thursday, Kristina. And I don’t even bake. I hate flying and have some horrible experiences to back me up, but of course I have to just keep doing it. The statistics and all…Somehow as I have gotten older it has gotten worse. I think it’s because I know how much there is to lose. All will be well on your flight and I hope you enjoy Denver!

  2. I appreciate you’re explanation of the rocking chair. Not all progress is measured the same way.

  3. I abhor flying. Not so much because of my perfectly natural fear of an in-flight disaster, but more because I’m claustrophobic. I hate being places I can’t leave whenever the notion strikes. Ugh.

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