In Defense Of Stirring The Pot

Do you smell it? Over there on the stove. In the big silver pot there’s homemade vegetable beef soup simmering on low.

Imagine taking the ladle in your hand, dipping it in and serving yourself a bowl. Go ahead and taste a spoonful.

Good, huh?

But you’re missing something that would make it great. Lots of somethings. They’ve settled to the bottom of that big silver pot.

Chunks of beef. Wedges of onion and tomato. Bits of celery and seasoning. And who knows what other goodness?

So much flavor. Settled. Out of sight and untasted.

Stir the pro

“You like to stir the pot,” they say. And their words aren’t given as a compliment, you know, but I’ve learned to receive them as one.

I think they mean I like to make people mad. I don’t. Not at all. I have a confession to make: What I like most is for people to like me. And when they don’t? I beat myself up, lose my nerve, doubt my worth, and don’t sleep well for days. The worst thing I can imagine is not public speaking, snakes, spiders, or cancer. The worst thing I can imagine is you not liking me.

I don’t stir the pot to make people mad.

I stir the pot to discover what’s missing. From life, from conversation. To learn. I ask questions I haven’t heard asked yet. Or start dialogue and listen for new insights.

Sometimes I stir the pot because I’ve already found what’s missing and can’t wait for you to find and taste it too. I share answers I think you’re hungry for.

Stirring the pot isn’t inherently bad. But it is dangerous. Sometimes in pursuit of buried morsels at the bottom someone gets bumped by an unwieldy elbow – a recklessly crafted sentence, a too-swiftly tweeted thought, an unnecessary critique, an indelicate question, a poorly timed observation. “Gently stir” the instructions read. Not “vigorously” or “hastily”. Not oblivious to the feelings and perspectives of others gathered around the pot.

I stir. And sometimes I elbow. I say “I’m sorry,” pick up my spoon and plunge in again, a little wiser than before.

Why? Why keep stirring? Because there’s lots of missing delicious at the bottom.

Thanks for tasting.