Trust the soup

Feeling a bit down in the dumps and in desperate need of a kick in the ass, I took the suggestion of Instapundit and downloaded the free Kindle version of author Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work.

I’m not usually a fan of “self-help” books, as they usually tout the feel-good mantras currently in vogue.  And after all, it seems to me that “self-help” should be exactly that.  By one’s self.  In the bootstrap kind of way.  Pressfield’s book is a little different.  It is more like a slap in the face instead of a smiling, toothful coddling.  The author outlines the barriers to getting started on a project and what we can do to fight, nay destroy them.  It is kind of like being at war with oneself, but with a positive outcome.  He does not dismiss failure, but rather embraces it.  I highly recommend if for those whose lives may seem to be stalled for whatever reason.

Early in the book, he mentions the phrase trust the soup.  Trust the soup ?  Ne’er heard of such.  He doesn’t explain it much, except to refer to it as kind of listening to and hearing one’s Muse:

When an artist says “Trust the soup,” she means lettiing go of the need to control (which we can’t do anyway) and put your faith instead in the Source, the Mystery, the Quantum Soup.

I have an idea of what he means. It is the mysterious guiding essence that hovers around each of us. To some of us, it is God. To others, a spirit.
Being somewhat a literal-minded person with perhaps less imagination than others, I took the phrase to refer to soup itself. An actual pot of soup, simmering on the stove.

If you’ve ever lovingly prepared a batch of soup in the dead of winter, you will know what I mean. Little by little you add your ingredients of choice and slowly allow each addition to mingle in the pot. The vegetables and herbs explore each other. They may alternately fight and embrace. The whole drama is played out in the smells permeating the kitchen. You have to coach the soup with a stir now and then. You may add a new herb or spice, then taste and reflect.

No two soups are the same. Each one, even using an identical recipes, is always somewhat different from the time you made it before.

A pot of soup is an experiment.

So, too, are each of our lives an experiment. We have lots of different ingredients simmering in our brains. They combat each other at times, each one competing for prominence in our psyches. Sometimes we will make a mistake. At other times, listening to the soup we find that we have found the perfect combination. Sometimes we are wrong, but when we are right it is heavenly.

But we have to trust the soup. We have to hungerly grasp at it, explore it, defend it, chastise it. Everyone’s soup is unique. Life is the constant refining our own ingredients, relentless in that search for the perfect pot.

Trust the soup.


Filed under Life

4 responses to “Trust the soup

  1. Greg Wadlinger

    I too found Steven Pressfield’s admonition to “trust the soup” to be really thought provoking. I think there really is some kind of inner voice that you can hear when you deliberately quiet the external “voices” that seem to always want to influence us or keep us thinking and acting in familiar and comfortable ways. I think it’s going to take some courage for me to strike out from my comfort zone and trust this inner voice, this knowledge and confidence that is only nascent now that perhaps comprises the “source” from which my own legacy will ultimately form.

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