One Question, One Recipe, and a Practice for the New Year

Are you living, working, communicating, with a closed fist or an open hand?

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An oddly shaped biscuit

The question

Do you live with a closed fist or an open hand?

A worthy experiment is to make a fist with one hand, closing your fingers really tight and notice how you feel. Then, slowly open your hand with fingers extended and be aware of how this influences you.

This question and experiment arose a few days ago as I was in the process of making biscuits for a New Year’s dinner. I felt myself tightening while holding onto an image of making perfect biscuits. I wanted them to be light and flaky, slightly browned on top and perfectly baked. As I noticed this image and my tightening, I remembered this question about living with a closed fist or an open hand and recognized my body tightening with this idea of perfection. I managed to bring my attention to feeling how lucky I was to have the time and the ingredients to make biscuits in my home kitchen. The flour and butter were fun to crumble in my fingers and hands in a metal mixing bowl. As I cut and shaped the biscuits I noticed how different, unique, and uneven each one was. Each biscuit was highly imperfect, and yet, I found much pleasure in removing these biscuits from the oven, and serving them to my family, and enjoying them as part of the celebratory meal.

A closed fist or an open hand is a useful and important way of noticing our approach to whatever we are doing and more broadly, how we live. 

Metaphors are powerful and the language we use to think about ourselves, describe our actions, and view our lives can have real impact.

The idea for making these biscuits and this question were inspired by my friend Edward Espe Brown, and his recent book, The Most Important Point.


The recipe

Here is Ed’s biscuit recipe.

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 T baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk, yogurt, or rice milk


Mix dry ingredients with butter. Work with your hands till crumbly.

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients, just enough to be mixed.

Roll the dough into a rectangle 1/2 ” thick.

Cut into triangles.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 450° until slightly browned top and bottom.

(Above is a photo of one of my highly imperfect biscuits.)


The Practice

Notice: Are you living, working, communicating, with a closed fist or an open hand?  What supports you to be more open?

Notice how the quest for perfection is a noble idea, except when it leads you to tighten and close. Explore enjoying imperfection; being less caught, less tightening around ideas of perfection.

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