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Cocktail Musings: Dweller on the Threshold

Cocktail Musings: Dweller on the Threshold

Not long after my daughter Wendy moved into her first apartment, she decided to share her new space with a little kitten that she named Novalee. Nova, as we came to call her, was wicked smart and an absolute terror, and I’m fairly certain that my ankles still bear the scars of her nighttime attacks whenever I would sleep over. She has grown into a magnificently large animal, the absolute alpha of the house who still displays flashes of her former kitten feistiness on a regular basis. One of my favorite things that she would do was stretch out in the doorway between the kitchen and living room, prompting me to always sing a few bars of the Van Morrison song that has the same title as this post. According to Joseph Campbell, a dweller on the threshold, otherwise known as a threshold guardian, is thought to be “what stands between the old world and the new world of personal growth.” If we view life as a series of journeys, the dweller holds the key to our understanding the one that is coming next. We meet him or her at the threshold, and the experience we have during that encounter depends a great deal on how ready we are to move forward and how willing we are to heed any advice the dweller may have for us. In mythology, where archetypes such as these are often very black and white, the dweller will be benevolent so long as we are prepared and open minded, or very nasty if we display ignorance or arrogance. I’m not sure how much Joseph Campbell Nova has read, but she still spends a lot of time guarding thresholds, and I step by her carefully as she tends to still take a swat at me, claws in these days. Apparently I have passed her tests.

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Cocktail Musings: Outer Limits

Cocktail Musings: Outer Limits

As this past week began for me, I found myself searching for those moments of inspiration I talked about in last week’s post. I was working on making some final tweaks to the cocktails intended for Recklesstown’s February menu, and two of them had me somewhat stumped. When divine intervention finally arrived, I did my best to muzzle my rational mind, but keeping it totally contained proved to be impossible. I directed that energy towards observing what it actually felt like to be accompanied by an abstract guide, rather than driven by a meticulous master. To put it another way, I gave my rational mind a pen and paper and said, “Here, take some notes.” I learned that I did not feel completely comfortable allowing abstraction to have a major part in setting a cocktail menu, especially since one of the most important forces behind drink creation for me has always been precision. As time goes on, however, I am realizing that it is more correct to say that a cocktail begins and ends with inspiration, but it is held together by a solid layer of exactness that rests squarely between the two. This past week’s exercise certainly reinforced this belief for me. Isn’t it interesting, though, how allowing abstraction in feels a bit like the way we surrender to water in order to be able to float, as opposed to the way we churn through it when we swim? Subtlety and nuance move to the forefront, and those tiny, often unnoticed shifts in the bedrock under our feet as we steamroll forward on all our missions suddenly feel a bit more seismic. To bring it back to the water analogy, we feel the slightest ripple when we float, but we miss it when we’re the one making all the waves.

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