My host son is a pie fanatic. He would eat a pie everyday if I let him. In fact, twice now he has taken a whole pie to school for lunch. If he appreciates one thing about America during his year here, at least I know that pie will be towards the top of the list. My job is complete.
Though my host son and I agree on pie, we could not be more different. He is a creature of habit who wants for nothing and prefers the predictable to possibilities. I rarely do things the same twice, yearn for change and see adventure and possibilities around every corner. Most weekends we have a stand-off at his bedroom door with my host son clinging for dear life to his cozy bed while I holler that it’s time to go DO something. “Why? Why must you always go DO something,” he pleads. “Because. Because you never know when it might change your life,” is my typical answer.
This same conversation happened in the kitchen last night over what to put in a pie. My host son had convinced me to make a blueberry pie (it doesn’t take much). We had good frozen blueberries so though not in season, totally doable. Since I had the opportunity to make pie, I wanted to experiment a bit and see if I could make a blueberry pie that felt more like the season. I wanted to warm it up with some citrus and some spice. My host son was firmly against this idea.
We spent a solid five minutes discussing whether or not I should add orange zest and juice to the pie. My host son was of the opinion that regular blueberry pie was already good enough, so why risk it with experimenting? We can predict the outcome if we stick to what we know and avoid a let down if we refrain from shaking things up. I was of the opinion that the next best pie might just be out there and we’ll never know if we don’t try. If you don’t take a risk, then you might be missing something that is better than what you currently know. Our conversation was so interesting because my host son’s take on life was that good enough was his comfort zone, and my take was to advocate for more risk taking in order to have a new experience that changes you for the better. The irony here is that I was talking to a person who decided to leave his country and come stay with strangers for a year but can’t bear to think of adding orange zest to a pie. I digress.
There’s a risk for both of us in our respective opinions, as we both are rather extreme versions of these stances. If I don’t have someone in my life helping me choose my adventures wisely, I may very well neglect to see that many of the things in my life are not just good enough, but great (his name is Ian and thank goodness he loves me). On the flip side, if my host son draws impenetrable boundaries to keep out any risk from his life, or pie for that matter, he might never unearth his potential to feel happiness and excitement in deeper ways.
I can imagine that most people struggle with this idea – when to be good enough and when to try for great. No matter which tendency we fall into, the key is to have a diverse safety net of people in our lives reigning us in or pushing us out. Isn’t that what really shapes our experiences? It’s the people we let in along the way.
So what happened to the pie? I waited until my host son left the kitchen and quickly added orange zest and juice without telling him. As we all sat around the table eating pie later that night, my husband, who is the perfect middle ground to the two of us, proclaimed that it was the best pie he had ever had. And we all agreed that this pie, did in fact, change our lives.