I believe in casserole. Throughout my childhood, I have probably experienced hundreds of different casseroles. My mother instilled in me a deep appreciation for food and that one of the major shames of the world was for anything to be wasted. Whenever leftovers were left uneaten my mother would gather them all and fuse them with something new, creating a unique concoction that could not be matched by another. I remember she had a recipe for everything, but casserole, which meant she never made the same casserole twice. My father always seemed sort of annoyed with the concept of casserole. He detested the idea of intermingling last night’s meal, perhaps finding fresh, new produce more appealing. But, I always found the artistic way that my mother blended the old with the new to be fascinating and inspiring, and have grown to have an even deeper appreciation for it today.
Casserole is a dying idea in America. It’s a shame. For it can be applied to everyday life, especially in the workplace. With unemployment on the rise and devices such as outsourcing becoming the new trend, you would think the CEO’s of certain companies missed out on the marvel of casserole as children.
Casserole represents creativity, blending the old with the new, whether you are blending last night’s chicken with some broccoli fresh out of the market, or an experienced employee who has been in the company for forty years’ ideas with a new, aspiring, twenty-two year old, fresh out of graduate school’s ideas. In my experience I have often found conferring with my elders to be the most worthwhile in work and life in general, and many of them admit that discussion with much younger colleagues has proved to help them the most. Sometimes the seemingly oddest combinations turn out to be the best ones.
Casserole stands for making do with what you have in an original and productive way. At my job as a lifeguard at Castaway Bay in Sandusky, Ohio, our motto is “Make it work.” Casserole demonstrates this motto to the utmost degree. At the water park I am taught to use my imagination in the face of adversity and to find a way to get the job done, whether it be rescuing a child without arms to grab hold of, or trying to calm down a mother who doesn’t speak a lick of English, and whose child has just been severely injured. People in all careers and all walks of life should adopt this motto that calls for exercising the skills that you have to the fullest and making something truly special out of them.
Casserole promotes recycling. In modern work and life the world has become accustomed to tearing down and doing away with the old, and building and buying new things that are prettier, shinier, or fresher. Why do away with the old when you can renovate? By recycling and renovating you combine the rich nostalgia of the old with the fresh and innovative new.
So, when you’re in work and life, make a casserole. Toil, blend, recycle, innovate, make do, be creative, and mix some old with some new. By doing so, you’ll feel that much more appreciation when you find that everything has fallen into place.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.