For years I have wanted to try my hand a making my own pasta from scratch. I enjoy baking and this seemed a natural extension of that. I even bought a pasta making set, which sat in the box unopened. Every time I would think of jumping in and doing it, I would come up with some excuse. It’ll make a mess of the kitchen I just cleaned. I just had pasta for supper yesterday. I don’t have time to deal with it today. I don’t have any eggs in the house.
Now, some of those are probably valid. But more so, I think I was just afraid of trying it and realizing I wasn’t good at it. It’s a fairly common fear, I believe. We all want to be good at the things we enjoy. And we don’t want to fail or be seen as failing. And I had some reason to be afraid. A few days ago I had announced my intention to a couple of people that I was going to attempt homemade pasta on Saturday. While talking to my older brother on Friday afternoon, he made mention of it. In a rather dismissive tone, he told me he’d love to be a fly on the wall while I was doing it. It was obvious he didn’t expect me to succeed.
I could have taken that to heart and abandoned the endeavor entirely. But there’s a part of me that is contrary enough to take his words as a challenge. And so, Saturday around noon, I opened the pasta making box and found a recipe. I got the dough mixed together fairly easily, though I think I made it a big wetter than it was meant to be. I left it to rest for a couple of hours as instructed. And then came the arduous task of rolling the dough out and cutting it into noodles. Even with the mechanical pasta roller, it was a more difficult task than I had imagined, if for no other reason than it took forever. By the end, my back was killing me, my arms were sore, and my noodles were not necessarily the correct thickness. But I had a whole rack of noodles drying.
At this point it was only 4pm, so a little early to be eating supper, especially as I’d eaten a late lunch. I made what was perhaps the mistake of letting the noodles dry too long. At 5:30 when I went to take them off the rack and start boiling the water, the noodles were brittle and broke fairly easily. I managed to get them off and into the water with some care. And then I made what was definitely a mistake of cooking them too long. They were entirely too soft by the time I got them out of the water and into the sauce.
In the end, the dish was certainly not restaurant quality, but it was definitely tasty. And while I probably wouldn’t serve this to guests, I think it was a decent first attempt. Sure, I made some mistakes along the way, but now I know them. The next time I make pasta, I’ll make the mixture a little drier and not let it dry for so long. I’ll only cook the noodles for ninety seconds instead of three minutes. And maybe that won’t turn out right either. But I’ll have made new mistakes that I can learn from.
Would my brother consider what I did a success? Maybe. The fact that I saw it through to completion and didn’t give up when I reached the first hurdle would probably impress him. But since the end result wasn’t perfect, he may consider it a failure. Honestly, though, I don’t really care. I’m entirely too proud of the fact that I managed to actually make pasta from scratch. And the fact of the matter is, I doubt he would ever even attempt it.
There are two ways to live this life, from a very simplistic viewpoint. You can either be a safer or a trier. A safer sticks to the safe path. They only pursue things they know they will be good at or that has low levels of failure. Triers are the ones who leap in headfirst. They decide they want to paint and they pick up a brush and start. Sure, the end result may look like a unicorn vomited on the canvas, but that’s not the point.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a safer. At various points in a person’s life, there might be a valid reason for being safe. It can be a mood you’re in for a day, a week, or a month. Or it can be in relation to certain activities or experiences. I am a safer when it comes to skydiving, for example. Nobody will ever convince me to willingly jump from an airplane. No matter how safe it is or what level of success the company has. I will not be doing that. And that’s okay.
But if you find yourself not doing something because you don’t want to look foolish or you don’t want to fail, maybe take another look. If you don’t like the end result of something, nobody has to know you did it. There’s no legal requirement that you post your failed painting or poor crocheting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Especially in these times of uncertainty and upheaval, we owe it to ourselves to live our lives to the fullest possible. And that means that our banana bread may be burnt. Or the pants we sew don’t have leg holes. Our first attempt at juggling may result in a bruise or a broken bowl. But if you never try, you can never know if you can succeed. There will inevitably be speed bumps and roadblocks along the way. But learning to navigate the path is half the fun of taking up something new.
So, I encourage you to take a leap of faith and try that thing you’ve been wanting to do for a while. It may fail utterly, but I promise you won’t regret it in the long run. If nothing else, it’ll be one of those amusing stories like when I set my electric oven on fire while trying to make a pie. I tell that story all the time even though it was an utter failure of mine. Because we all have those moments.
What are you attempting? Post your successes or your failures below!