Failure is in the Eye of the Beholder

It was about to be the greatest success in my Cheesecake making career. (That is Cheesecake with a capital “C”; in my house Cheesecake is a proper noun.) The day before, the senior class had slaved away in the kitchen making six beautiful Cheesecakes. Three strawberry flavored cakes had already been perfectly removed from their pans; two turtle Cheesecakes with Oreo cookie crust, Carmel, chocolate and pecans, sat next to them. The final cake, also turtle flavored, waited to be removed from the pan.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Oh how beautiful they were. Usually, our unpredictable oven manages to burn them, at times to a crisp. But these Cheesecakes were prefect, not one bit underdone, and without the slightest hint of burn.

The task of Cheesecake-pan-removal requires delicacy and precision. First, you place the pan on a stove burner, moving it back and forth until the Cheesecake becomes loose inside. A good eye knows when the cake is ready to come out. At that moment, the pan is flipped upside down, with a forceful smack on the bottom. Gently the pan is taken off of the cake, leaving the Cheesecake upside down on a plate. Within seconds, another plate is placed on crust, the cake is flipped right side up on the second plate and the other plate is removed.

Without delicacy the second plate can crush the cake, and without precision the crust will burn if it remains on the burner too long. That day I had five successes; one more perfect flip would make it six.

As I had been working a crowd gathered. The kitchen was full of commotion with some people minding their own business, others watching my every move.

I placed the pan on the burner, just like I had the other five. I began to shake it, just like I had the other five. I feared if I removed it too soon part of it would stick in the pan, yet if I left it on too long, the crust would burn. I eyed it carefully, using the practiced eyes of the cake-removal expert I had become, making sure it was ready to come out.

It was, I knew in the bottom of my heart, a Cheesecake whose time had come.

I turned the pan upside down onto a plate; the cake came perfectly out of the pan. I grabbed another plate to turn the cake right side up. In the middle of the flip, the Cheesecake slid straight off to the plate.


It crumbled onto the counter. The kitchen fell silent.

Like Mighty Casey at the bat, striking out and dismaying the crowd in Mudville, I had dismayed the crowd in Greenville.

Five times I had successfully removed the Cheesecakes from their pans, but not six. I Stared and beheld the FAILURE; A Cheesecake lost for all eternity.

FAILURE. What a strong word. How many people have failed in their life? Thomas Edison made several attempts before he invented the light bulb, did he fail? Martin Luther King Jr. ended up in the Birmingham jail, did he fail? Michael Jordan missed more than one free throw in his life, did he fail?

Failure indeed depends on how we look at things.

When something goes wrong you have a choice,

a. Try again knowing that it will turn out better next time.

b. Take what you can and learn from the experience.

c. See what benefits the attempt has brought despite the overall result.

d. All of the above.

Believing you will never succeed is not an option.

The success or failure of a project depends on how you perceive the situation. If you look with a critical eye and are able to find what went wrong, you can do better next time. The most successful people in life are those who do not give up at the first difficulty.

That day I was successful. Not only with five perfect Cheesecakes, but I also discovered that the best way to make friends with people in the kitchen. Flop a delicious Cheesecake, and let them do the clean up.

About Nicolette Chmiel

Nicolette Chmiel is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi. She hails from Ohio, and currently is doing youth work in Cincinnati.
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