I should be honest with you all. This week I have not been out there treading the path to self-betterment I committed to in writing this column. Nope, I’ve been stuck in a kitchen overseeing amateur cooks whisk and flambé their way down the homestretch to become MasterChef, a term only months ago was confused with a make of crudely desiccated oregano. It’s finale week of the country’s most successful reality TV series. Six start it, one finishes it. And, oh, the tears!
Reality TV’s a trip. Much artifice goes into “enabling” the reality. The judges and I are strapped in with cords and mic packs, our ruffles and cravats propped up with layers of Hollywood Tape. More than 150 crew steer the unfolding realness from behind eight cameras and a dozen editing suites. We film 12 hours a day; Tuesday night’s show is shot on a Saturday; and in the heat of it all we’ve forgotten what season it is. It’s unreal. But not entirely not-real, if you get my double-negative drift.
So, as many a monk apprentice has asked though the ages, where’s the self-betterment lesson in this crazy fulcrum of reality? Said the chief monk to his underling, right in front of you my child. In the everyday.
My lesson this week has been about everyday mindfulness. I’m not sure if you pick up on this at home. Sometimes the contestants cook mind-bogglingly great food. Sometimes they cook, in the words of contestant Chris (hat, tatts), utter crap. And what determines which way the croquembouche crumbles is the contestant’s mindfulness.