The Art of Making Tacos (or, Think Outside the Bun!)

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Two weeks ago, I blew a fuse on my creative energy. A series of painful events produced entirely too much of an emotional charge for me to be able to channel all the feelings into enlightening works of art.  Bright ideas would flare up and then short-circuit (I really hope my electrical analogies make sense…or that no electricians read this. I have not bothered do to any research).

In the midst of my emotional brown-out, I have been longing for time recharge my creative energy. If I just had time to sit and color a picture, or make a collage, or finger-paint, or write a four-chord song, or even just to stay in bed all day and dream, then maybe I could power my creativity enough to pursue prose again. As is typical of any college student, however, work and school prevented me from doing so. Work was the worst. The job I had once enjoyed had begun to plague me like a dementor. The late nights at Taco Bell, doing monotonous, yet mentally stressful tasks, were starting to suck my soul away, making me wish to God that I could just do a Patronus charm. But, alas, I have not yet convinced God to make Harry Potter real (…and believe me, I am trying), so I had to trudge on, feeling thin and nearly soulless.

Yesterday, after staying in bed all day in hopes of having some inspirational dreams (and coming up with only nightmares), I got up with the aid of my new best friend, Five Hour Energy. I put on my work uniform (which had, at this point, begun to spark images of Atlas, or John Bunyan’s Christian), and headed to the place that my subconcious had begun to refer to as Taco Hell. My mind shut out all thoughts that didn’t have to do with tortillas and taco meat filling as soon as I walked in the door. However, somewhere in the down time between dinner rush and bar rush, the proverbial fog lifted.

Somewhere, during a conversation about who-knows-what, one of  my managers referred to taco making as an “art.” I laughed, and he replied with, “What’s so funny? Why can’t making tacos be an art?” He then began to explain that the ancient Greek gods, like  “Jupiter and Pluto,” were skilled taco makers, and that he was a taco making demi-god that was the offspring of Zeus and a human. Normally, I would have taken the time to explain to him that he had just confused Greek mythology with its Roman imitation, but I was too caught up in what he had said before: “Why can’t making tacos be an art?”

Suddenly, I began to look at the food I was making in a very different way. I began to notice the comforting golds and browns on a regular taco. I began to notice the exciting way sour cream contrasted with the bright green lettuce and shiny red tomatoes on a burrito supreme. I began to love sprinking red nacho strips on a previously bland volcano burrito. The bright yellow nacho cheese, the blue Baja Sauce, the green guacamole, and the perfect canvas of a tortilla. Why had I not noticed the beauty here before? And all this time, the motto of my place of employment has been to “think outside the bun!” One would think I would have allowed myself a change of perspective long ago. There really is no reason why taco making can’t be art.

So, bored with your job? You don’t have to be. Wish you were an artist? You can be. Think you’re not creative? You are. It’s time for a change in perspective. See the beauty in the things that you do everyday, and pretty soon, the creative energy you get will allow you to pursue “higher” (though, who determines which arts are higher, really?) art forms. Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to “think outside the bun” sometimes.


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