My one weakness (although my husband would argue fervently that I have more) is my passion for MasterChef.
I have no idea how it has slurped and slopped its way into my soul, but it has. It is also the cause of much anguish, of which my husband has had a belly full. As soon as he hears the signature tune he disappears into his study, because he can’t stand hearing me wailing, ‘It should be me with that apron on.’
Alongside thousands of others, of course, I too, have applied for a coveted place. But as I filled out the form on-line, I knew I didn’t have a chance. I had to own up to one of my many previous lives when I was once employed as a cook. Not in a fabulously scary Michelin star kitchen. Not even in a local bistro or a dirty-dive café. But as a vegetarian cook for a spiritual growth residential centre. It was a lovely job, but had I known it would scupper my chances of getting onto MasterChef, I would have chosen to clean those corridors and bedrooms instead.
But the return of MasterChef has got me thinking (again) about the quirkiness of life, and how (great plateful of cliché served up here) we have no idea the way it will turn out.
It hasn’t always felt like this, but these days I do sense, somehow, that I’m guided by invisible railway tracks that seem to know where they’re heading even if I don’t. Profit in hindsight and all that, I realise now those tracks have always been there.
But as a hot-headed youngster who thought she knew it all, I didn’t trust the direction of my tracks. So I jumped off, arms flailing, and fell straight down a ravine.
The desire to get back to my tracks was all consuming, but it took me decades to find them again. Stretching the metaphor, during my search I did try to jump on other people’s railway tracks. But of course, I soon discovered that didn’t work.
When I finally located my own again, I was able to put all the energy I’d once used to survive into things that give me a personal sense of meaning and purpose. That’s when my life really started to get into gear. And, now I am thankful to be able to enjoy the clickety-clack sound of my life as it trundles along my personal railway line.
Do I regret jumping off my tracks all those years ago? Yes and no. Had I stayed put, I certainly wouldn’t have had the many enriching and nail-biting experiences life has thrown at me. I probably wouldn’t have met my husband, and so it’s unlikely I would be living the life I do now. And, I doubt I would have spent time cooking for a spiritual centre.
But if I had stayed on my tracks, perhaps I would be eligible for MasterChef.
Maybe even have won it.