When I first started cooking, caramelising onions was one of my least favourite tasks. It required slow-cooking the onions for at least 45 minutes and sometimes it took even longer. One fine day, I ran into a chef. He said, “Put some salt in it…”
A lightbulb went off in my head. It was the Onion Opportunity of my life!
These days, caramelising onions is no longer one of my most dreaded duties. I had picked up a trick of the trade. Is it ‘cheating’? Not exactly. It, is, however, a shortcut. But since I’d been doing things the long way for such a long time, I now appreciated the shortcut.
The Tricks of The Trade
What tricks have you got up your sleeve? We use the term ‘tricks’ to refer to a sleight of hand and the fact that things are not as they seem. Magicians, for instance, are known to guard the tricks to the trade zealously. They will not share their trade secrets with anyone.
These ‘tricks’, if you will, are not easy to learn and take time, concentration and experimentation to master. When we talk about ‘the tricks of the trade’, we are referring to those aspects of an industry that only an insider would know about. It refers to knowledge that is zealously guarded, not revealed easily and takes effort to master.
Have you ever been to a magic show? We know it’s all bluff, but still; we are captivated. We want to know how the magician did it. But once we figure out how ‘the trick’ actually works, our interest may waver. Why? The trick itself is usually a simple one. It’s never as complicated as we think it is.
Everyday, we deal with ‘trickster’ energy. We can discover the tricks of our chosen profession and implement them to save us time, energy and headache. A little like my caramelised onions. It’s a simple trick, but it saves me a lot of time and my food tastes the same.
But if the chef hadn’t told me, I never would have known about it.
Anansi The Spider
One particularly well-known and world-renowned trickster is the folkloric spider Anansi. He is best known for his ability to outsmart and triumph over more powerful opponents through his use of cunning, creativity and wit. In storytelling traditions, Anansi is a symbol for potent transformation as he harnesses the ability to transform his weaknesses into strengths.
He is a trickster, yes. But his tricks are not all that ingenious. He digs a pit and the leopard falls into it. To entice the hornet, he waits for rain and offers shelter. The last trick he uses is to turn someone’s weakness against that person; which in the victim’s case was a weakness for sweet things.
The significant part of the story is that Anansi repeatedly beguiles opponents far larger and more powerful than himself by using strategic thinking.
The true ‘trick’ if you will, when it comes to Anansi, is the age-old lesson that, “Sooner or later, you will run into a golden opportunity… And all you have to do is use your mind to seize it.”
Anansi would later be given the accolade The King of Stories. He is the patron of storytellers and those who live by their wits.
A ‘trick’ is a quick and effective method used by people who are experienced in a particular profession. The way of the magician is to teach through ways that do not appear straightforward, but in fact, are extremely straightforward to implement.
Think of some of the tricks you have hiding up your sleeve. Like Anansi, how would you apply them to your life to make it so much smoother?