Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A little perfection

There's something great and wonderful and, dare I say, majestic about a well-made chocolate chip cookie. I'm not sure I can say that it touches the sublime, but perhaps this recipe could. The author, Nancy Rommelman, shares this recipe and notes something that is true in many areas of life: knowledge is not expertise.
I know that, no matter how meticulously I explain a recipe – and people seem to think baking is a very meticulous business, despite my telling them, I rarely measure anything – it will not taste the same as mine. Why? Because I’ve been baking since I was seven, I’m good at it and, chances are, you’re not.

I am not trying to be snotty here. If you give me a violin, and tell me exactly and a thousand times how to play a Tchaikovsky concerto, I am not going to sound like Jascha Heifetz, even if I practice, for years. I might play well, but I will not play like him. The same holds true for baking... .

I like this. There is so much truth wrapped up in this statement that many people today seem to not understand. (Perhaps something in our culture is pushing us away from this knowledge? Human Resource departments sort of know this, but there is still a push to document your knowledge, it seems.) Quantifying expertise is impossible, but I think each person has a spark of something that allows them to take one or more areas and turn their knowledge into something more. Just because Joe Smith and I took the same four years of classes at Big State University and both majored in Big Computational Disciplines does not mean that our skill sets are the same. It doesn't mean that we bring the same abilities to the knowledge that we have.

And perhaps, if I may be bold, this is a part of that concept of being made in the image of God. Yes, we know that primates can create tools and use them, but has any primate taken that knowledge and developed a Home Depot in the jungle? I haven't seen one.

And yet, even though I may not have great baking expertise, I'm still thinking it's worth my time to try this cookie recipe. If nothing else, it will let me have some quality time with my family.