More than One Dimensional


This week controversy arose over The New York Times obituary of Yvonne Brill, a rocket scientist, whose write up started with “She made a mean beef stroganoff.” For all her accomplishments many feel this was downplaying her real work as a rocket scientist and pandering to the fact that she was a woman, a wife, a mother, and a darn good cook.

Surely, it was not to take away from Ms. Brill’s wonderful professional achievements. What she accomplished in an era that saw few women in the field of rocket science is amazing. But what I see as being honored is that she was more than one dimensional. Fortunately, many of us are. What I also see is that someone presumable as busy as Ms. Brill was, she still made time to feed her other talents.

It’s not a well kept secret that I make muffins for classes on occasion. It’s not a bribe, although I am alright if people think it is. It is not a chore, although realizing that I am out of pumpkin at eight o’clock at night is a little troublesome. It is not a mindless gesture, although I know most my recipes by heart. It is something I do with full awareness because I am aware that I not only like to bake, I like to bake for others. It is an extension of who I am and it is a small offering that I can extend to the people I care about. But I am not only a baker and Ms. Brill was not only good with beef stroganoff.

Yes, building rockets to further our scientific endeavors is important, but we cannot feed the soul on that alone. We need the balance provided by that which nourishes our soul. That may be cultivating a garden. That may be caring for rescue animals. That may be painting watercolors or rebuilding bikes. Whatever hobby or interest we partake in does not have to deflate our other accomplishments. We can revel in those things with great joy knowing they make us whole in who we are.

Someday you may consider what your obituary will say about you. Will it be a resume? Or will it reflect all the things that make you uniquely you? And, if the occasion should arise that my obituary needs to be written, please know I am good with the lead: “She made fabulous pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and she had a passion for pie and coffee.”

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