Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vive la Différence

"With the vanilla batter in the cake pan, place a few spoonfuls of the chocolate batter on top. Using the end of a wooden spoon, gently draw swirls through the batter to marbleize it. Don't overmix or you won't have that wonderful swirled look to the finished cake."

I've grown concerned lately that we have over-stirred the batter, ignoring the instructions and warning on the back of the box. The result is that the desired colorful and unique effect has been replaced instead with a homogenized, bland, and unappealing form. A warning must be sounded to embrace the beautiful uniqueness that each of us possesses. The true joys of life are the different colors and textures and cultures and palettes and sensory experiences. If everyone is cut out of the same mold, hewn from the same tree, only a single note will be heard to what should be a great and varied symphony.

Several years ago at an Open House gathering in our department, one of the graduate students from India volunteered to perform a few traditional dances from her homeland. She wore a beautiful dress that her family had given to her when she came to the United States that befitted the scene perfectly. She took such pride in her presentation and music and choreography and storytelling. Ultimately, she gave us a cultural gift that we would never have received if we had mixed the batter too many times. Vive la différence.