The Mindfulness of Hotcakes and Trapdoors


I made hotcakes this morning.  I mixed up a batch of my special hotcake mix last night using the ingredients that I had on hand. There were a few essential things I was missing, but I feel that I more than made up for these by adding almond meal and toasted coconut.  These hotcakes would never be on an IHOP commercial or in a photograph on the menu. They always pour into odd elliptical shapes — unbecoming to any self-respecting advertised hotcake.  Depending on how well I have managed to pre-heat the skillet, they turn out perfectly golden or unappetizingly pasty-white or sometimes simply compost-worthy.  Today was a good day, and they came out pretty close to just right.  Goldilocks would have had no complaint.

While I was cooking them, it struck me that making hotcakes requires a great deal of mindfulness.  You can’t heat the griddle too quickly.  You need to whisk the batter just so, leaving the correct proportion of lumps.  You have to test the griddle with droplets of water and listen for the sizzle before you pour the first hotcake.

Then comes the waiting.  First, there is a test of patience that rewards you with hotcakes that are just the right color and just the right doneness before you flip them.  Then you wait some more.  It is always tempting to walk away from the stove after you have flipped them.  There are bowls to rinse, syrup to heat, butter to be put on a plate.  More coffee to be made.  Compost to be taken out.

When I do not maintain the necessary mindfulness, the bottom gets too dry or too dark or too crunchy.  These pancakes go to compost pile or to the dogs — who absolutely looooove burnt hotcakes.  I know that it is best to wait.

This morning I waited and was rewarded with the loveliest of hotcakes.  I thought of that maxim “Good things come to those who wait,” and I thought, Yes, this is so true.  About the time I am ready to despair of ever realizing my loftiest of dreams . . . or the time when I feel I am just about ready to touch one of my goals, and it simply dissipates before me . . . or the time when I feel as if all is linking up just so and then something comes along and blows the line up . . . I must remember to think Patience . . . think Hotcakes.

Life always has its twists, turns, spirals, and trap doors.  I would rather keep my eye on the prize and fall into a trap than be warily looking down at the path before me, wondering where the next booby trap is and hoping that I will somehow miraculously avoid it.

I was reading about trapdoor snails and came across this excerpt on why to keep these snails in your pond []:  “All the pond books recommend these belly foots (gastropods) for ponds.   Theoretically, trapdoors make excellent algae eaters.  However, we’ve never been able to measure their effectiveness — even when kept in mass quantities.” 

So, basically, we know that these belly foots work for the reasons we want them to in the pond, but we just can’t measure their effectiveness.  The correlation of gastropods to hotcakes and mindfulness might seem to be a bit of a stretch, but it clicked for me internally.  Perhaps it is the usefulness of maintaining a dream, even when I can’t measure its effectiveness in the present moment.  In other words, keep the dreams in the pond — in mass quantities — and hope for the best end results.  Give up on measuring and simply believe that all is working as it should be.

One more thought: “Trapdoor snails (like most snails) slam their trapdoors when picked up or pestered.”  And some more food for thought regarding dreams, goals, hopes, and opportunities . . . all excellent reminders when keeping goals at the forefront:

  1. When pestered, slam the door.
  2. When obstacles block your path, scoot away as quickly as your belly foot can take you.
  3. Protect the essence of your shell and always maintain mindfulness.
  4. Keep forward progress in motion, even if it feels to be a snail’s pace.
  5. Don’t look back.  Throw away the rearview mirror.
  6. Keep flippin’ hotcakes, don’t mind the burnt ones, and shoot for the moon.