30 days of cozy: lessons from a grilled cheese

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to code as well as I cook.

And that wondering often turns to worrying that I won’t, or worse, can’t.

Recently my friend Owen shared on Twitter how he just couldn’t get the hang of making a grilled cheese in his cast iron pan.

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I saw his tweet and instantly responded:

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I did so with total confidence that my advice was sound and useful. I have decades of experience probing the routine and edge cases of cast iron and know well its charms and idiosyncrasies.

If someone were to pop up and say “yeah low and slow, but also this” it wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest.

Or even if they had said “low and slow? pah. what you really need is…” I’d read it and consider it, and move on. But I wouldn’t doubt my advice.

I have a level of experience and familiarity with my craft that that makes me, well, confident!

Confidence does not, however, mean I that I am especially proud of my fearlessness in the kitchen. It’s not something I examine or reflect on or question. It just…is. I have become a cook who is adventurous and unafraid and willing to try all kinds of stuff. It is who I am.

So why is it so painfully obvious to me when I don’t have it—for example, with coding?

When I’ve mastered something, I take it for granted. It “just is“.

When I struggle, I grind on myself. I make it about a lack of character: I’m not committed enough or clever enough or ___ enough. Subtext: I’m not enough.

But this is a fraught path.

I didn’t become a cook because I was especially anything. I just was. Already fully enough, I started cooking daily. I chopped onions, made roux, tried different spices, read cookbooks.

I took action, over and over and over again, and with time, it became second nature.

Low and slow, friend.

When I start to wonder, and then worry, that I’ll never code as well as I cook, I remind myself of the path of daily practice.

I am not so little or lacking that I cannot improve with practice. My current state is not due to a fundamental flaw, and my path to greatness is ordinary.

Like a well-toasted grilled cheeze: what a comfort!

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