There is something to be said about learning to find joy in small things.
Today I made the perfect piece of toast (at least to my standard of what the perfect piece of toast should be). The bread was golden like some sort of Midas-touched, carb-loaded hunk of precious gluten. On its surface, the flaky craters seem to reflect light, almost as though angels will spring forth and sing a heavenly chorus, praising my toast-making skills. It really is just right. Not even the edges are overdone. In the middle, the bread is warm and soft still, but as soon as I bite, I get that gratifying crunch that comes along with the quintessential piece of toast. Much to my satisfaction, breakfast is made more pleasant by this extraordinary and for me, unprecedented moment.
But this isn’t about toast.
This is about my need to find something good in days that often start off just as difficult as they proceed, days in which toast has become the highlight.
Needless to say, since March, I have sifted through life’s long-abandoned goldmine for flecks of something precious. This existence that I have cobbled together from mundanity and isolation, from societally-imposed introversion and reading binges, is an unforeseen and unwelcome challenge, the kind of scenario that warrants a celebration when breakfast isn’t burnt.
Certainly, options for achieving earth-shattering successes are few and far between when you have become an unwilling shut-in, Quasimodo in your bell-tower home. How do we stay sane when there is absolute insanity in the world “out there,” the nebulous and made-scary “beyond”?
You make toast. You make the best damn toast you can, and you shout from your socially-distanced rooftop with a voice muffled from behind your mask because if you don’t, you may scream or cry or lose it because times are hard, but your toast is not. Your toast is just right.
9 thoughts on “In Response To: Toast”
Thank you for the profound way you’ve reminded us of “how to stay sane.” I think you’re right. It comes down to “toast.”
Wow, Joseph, this is such a beautiful and entertaining essay. One of my favorite lines among many is: “The bread was golden like some sort of Midas-touched, carb-loaded hunk of precious gluten.”
It’s interesting to me that in our Quasimodo retreats we have time to focus on the mundane, like the perfect slice of toast, which has definitely included flecks of the precious. Every once in a while, I notice myself doing something (like yesterday it was while I carefully cut and labeled my 1/2 tablet prescription medicine for the next two weeks!) A ludicrous exercise for someone like me who, just a few short months ago while so overwhelmed with life and busyness, I would have taken the whole tablet, forgetting to cut it in half, or in my haste just gnawed off half of it, leaving the slobbery second for the next time I remembered to follow the doctor’s order and take a tablet. Though I miss so much, I have definitely appreciated the peace and routine that have come to mark my days by this, the 147th.
Thanks for your lovely slice of life today,
I LOVE this slice! It actually made me crave toast (and I am trying to avoid most carbs) and your description does indeed sound like you found a way to make the perfect toast. I love the way you paced this and described the toast, your quest for gold in general, and your ending- such a summary of my feelings for the things I am enjoying!
This is definitely a post that brings a smile to my face. As coincidence would have it, I read this while eating a nearly-perfect egg sandwich for breakfast. The English muffin was toasted well (although perhaps not to the standard you described), the cheese melted perfectly, and the eggs were fried as well as they’ve ever been. There is a joy to be found in small things, and I like how you bring that out in your post.
It’s my hope that your toast is perfect tomorrow as well, and that your day only gets better from there!
I think many of us are “making toast” in our own ways, coping as best we can. Great analogy. Hang in there!
I find it a struggle these days to remain positive, TY for this. We are definitely all in this together. 🙂
You are onto something with your reflections on toast. Have you heard of the memoir
Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt?
It is a true story of grandparents who moved in with the grandchildren when the parents were killed in an accident. Talk about grief. Sometimes making a good piece of toast is what we can do.
This is a brilliant post. I loved it! I really loved your last paragraph. And now I totally want toast! 🙂
Making perfect toast is an admirable goal for any day and especially for the days that we have now. I especially liked this description in your post, “Certainly, options for achieving earth-shattering successes are few and far between when you have become an unwilling shut-in, Quasimodo in your bell-tower home.” It resonated with me for many reasons. I hope your toast remains perfect for many days to come!