At this point I’m not even sure I know how to breathe properly anymore.

For two decades I’ve been chopping the ends off garlic cloves with a small knife then stripping them like a banana.  I’ve also cracked the flaky skin firmly under a cleaver, pushed the flesh out of the sides, and left a sticky smear of juice across the chopping board. It all depends on how Naked Chef I’m feeling.

But while I’ve been wondering if Jamie would be quite so cavalier with his veg prep if he was the one tidying up, it seems that we’ve all missed the neatest trick in the cookery book. Apparently, all we have to do is stab a pointy knife into a fully-wrapped garlic bulb, give it a wiggle and the clove just slides out. WHAT?

It’s another banal yet mind-blowing revelation to add to how we’ve all been eating pineapple the hard way, and that it’s possible to replace a bin bag with the flamboyance of a Toreador.

Reader, we’ve been doing it – garlic, pineapple, bin bags, life – all wrong.

But while Googling how to open doors (at this point I trust nothing), I had another revelation. What if ‘this is the best way to peel garlic’ is not the point? We all get to eat the meal anyway, right?

When asked for advice by pregnant friends (ha) I only ever say avoid anyone who tells you there is one way to do things right. When it comes to babies there is more than one way of doing almost everything – what works for someone else might not work for you. It’s something that feels pretty true for life too.

It’s good to have role models but when we transplant someone else’s 10 Top Tips for Success into our own lives, with no respect paid to our individuality or the responsibilities we have to honour before we can ‘hustle’, then it’s unlikely to work. But if we pick and mix – listen to what works for others, and are just as mindful of what works for us – then it is perfectly possible we will end up where we want to go, even if we are splattered with a little garlic juice.

It definitely helps to have the right knife, a perfectly ripe garlic bulb and someone to show you how it’s done (incoming – metaphor for intergenerational wealth and privilege). It would be churlish to suggest that anyone should hand those things back in favour of making a sticky mess (although sharing is caring and all that…). But it’s also worth finding the value in that moment when we don’t know how to approach a giant, spiky fruit in our mate’s kitchen at midnight. Drunkenly hacking away at my first ever whole pineapple sometime in 2007 brings with it vivid memories of wet-my-pants laughter and the warm embrace of belonging. I’m not sure I’d want to give those up.

I’m no expert on life, especially in these dark times when it feels like we’re clinging on by a thread to any collective sense of sanity. I should also admit that while typing this I’ve found a crusty pimple of peanut butter bonded to my chin…

My f**ks are way more likely than my ducks to be in a row.  But I believe we can all get there – wherever that may be for you – in the end.

That’s a message I need to hear, possibly more than it’s dignified to admit to. If there is one lesson more glorious than any other that I’ve learned in this life so far, it is that we are rarely alone…so I’m putting it here in case you could do with hearing it too.

Keep going lovely human – keep believing, keep trusting that if it brings you happiness then it is worth your time, regardless of the mess along the way, irrespective of the eventual outcome.

How you peel your garlic doesn’t matter in the end – it’s how your bolognese nourishes you that will bring you joy.

Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash