The Cake Shop

by Anna Chandy

Recently I attended a gathering of professionals.  The venue had a combine of individuals who were professionals.  These professionals were at different phases of their professional journey and had come to share new ideas, research papers, thoughts and their expertise.

It was like entering a cake shop.  There were assorted cakes for display and sale.    There were wholesome cakes that were heavy, well risen, firm yet moist, tasty to eat and had no icing decorations.  They stood alone, firm and tall.  Then there were feather light sponge cakes that were were fully decorated with soft butter icing, soggy cakes decorated with thick almond icing and cup cakes that appeared divine, and yet lacked taste.  Each of us symbolized the various types of cakes standing on the shelves of the cake shop!

The past few days, I’ve been reflecting on each of us as human beings and the roles we play.  Somewhere along our journey, we forget our core as a human being and instead seem to get trapped in our role identity.  The outcome of this trap of role, is that we forget who we are and slowly engage with ourselves and the other from our role expectations.

Irrespective of your professional qualifications, expertise and role identity in society, your core is a key determinant in your behavior and the manner in which you engage and conduct yourself – alone or with others.

I was observing various professionals at the gathering.  Although some of them had age (assumption of experiential wisdom), qualifications and expertise, yet they resembled the cupcakes.  Fully decorative and divine, yet they lacked taste.  They seemed so afraid of the loss of their professional position and recognition that they held on to it rigidly.

The divine cakes were calling out to be taken, for fear of being left on the shelf.    Out of this fear of becoming stale and being disposed, they kept engaging from a rather patronizing one-up position.  They used jargon to mystify and create an impression that the road to ‘Leela’ or play, is long and tunneled.  In Transactional Analysis terms, they take the life position, ‘I’m OK, you’re not OK’.  Further on, when we engage with divine cakes, they are so divine to look at, that we are caught up in the fantasy and are unable to connect with our consensual reality.

The feathery sponge cakes can be eaten but will still leave you feeling hungry.  These professionals are full of esoteric theory.  They appear so fluffy in esoteric theory, as if they are floating on a carpet of Nirvana.   I wondered if they were digesting all these vast amounts of learning and information.  When we engage with individuals who are like the light, feathery sponge cakes, they are so light that we seem to experience them as unanchored.

Have you ever had the experience of an almond iced cake?  You chose to eat a slice because the icing was so smooth and glossy in texture.  Yet, when you ate a piece, it was soggy and not fully cooked.  It is well known among cake makers, that if a cake is soggy and unevenly risen, the best way to cover the error is to use almond or fondant icing. as the icing will camouflage the inside.  Some of us are expert theoreticians, yet we do not ruminate and assimilate our own theories into our core.  The theory symbolizes the almond icing.

And then there are wholesome cakes – you eat a slice of it and it provides you with energy for the next few hours, because it digests slowly.  In our day-to-day lives, when we engage with individuals who are down to earth, comfortable, accepting of themselves and the other, they convey to us gratitude, compassion and unconditional love – qualities that enable us to live with hope.  The energy from them is acceptance of realities, pain, joy and fear.  They embrace life.

What kind of cake will you endeavor to be in the Cake Shop of Life?

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