Sunday, September 14, 2008

Carl Sagan and Pomegranate Thinking

I just love this. It really struck a chord in me -- I think I live like this.

I consider it pomegranate thinking: Carl Sagan - "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

What waits to be known is what keeps me loving what I have done for a living for two decades. I write. Everything and everyone is a story, and the questions come spilling out. Life is not always beautiful, but life is always fascinating.

There's not many people I could send this quote to, though. I went down my email list and realized that most people look at knowledge like a course you take for 25 years, and then for the most part, you're done. You know what you need to to successfully navigate the known world you live in -- there's not much need to change how you think or add to the wisdom.

And when you think about it, that's certainly the most comfortable existence. Sometimes it would be EASIER to see life like that, too.

I don't mean abandoning precious life tenets. I don't try on a different faith every year, for example. The Christianity that comforted me in my childhood is still the foundation for my middle age. I still like the Golden Rule for how to do unto others. I still like to wear Crocs, even if their fashionability wanes. I still think black makes me look less chunky.

But some things are open for debate, up for suggestions. I explore new writers, new TV shows, new candidates. New restaurants.

I have quite enjoyed two recent trips to a place called fivetwelve college tea house in Waxahachie. In a large rehabbed Victorian home, this unusual tea room features the culinary genius of Rhonnie Tompkins, an Australian expat who is unsatisfied with the usual chicken salad and fruit salad. There's none of what I consider Casablanca cooking ("Round up the usual suspects.") Her chicken salad is crafted with chicken breasts poached in white wine and juniper berries and a delicate blend of seasonings, including curry. Tompkins' fruit salad has 10 or more fruits on it, depending on the season and what's in her yard and at the Waxahachie Downtown Farmer's Market. There's fresh figs in July, and pomegranate in September.

As I write this, I am picking away at a slightly underripe pomegranate from my own front yard. The tree's boughs were so laden, they had to be trimmed so as to stop thwacking the cars driving under it en route to the carport and garage. Some years we don't even harvest them; they just hang there until they're overripe.

There are easier fruit to eat than pomegranates. Fruits that don't require an engineering plan to get at the good stuff. Peel the orange, you're done. Munch away. Seedless grapes -- just pluck them off the stem and it's ambrosia.

No, Punica granatum are complicated things. To get to the 600 little arils inside requires patience and a plan, and can hardly be done without something of a mess. The best things in life are like that, I think - requiring patience, a plan, and something of a mess.

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." Or tasted. Or experienced.

You can have the same fruit salad everyone else is having, or you can expand your horizons.

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