I found myself binge watching this Netflix show called Full Swing just to have on in the background as I aimlessly scrolled through my phone getting overwhelmed with all the awful things going on in the world.
I’ve maybe played golf twice in my life and my favorite part was eating hotdogs after the 9th green. I’m also not a person who follows anything golf related — but I did catch a phrase I thought was good. Any time a golfer would miss a few crucial swings or putts, they would say that it was going to cause some “scar tissue”.
Maybe it’s a little dramatic and I have no doubt that golf is hard. My toxic trait is watching Tiger Woods swing a club and think to myself, “Hmm…I think I could probably do that after a few tries out at the range.”
Failing to rise to an occasion or in general falling short creates some major internal wounds that just take loads of time to heal. Hell, any awful thing that has harmed you, whether emotional or physical gives you scars. And with time they sort of heal and you’re left with scar tissue. It makes total sense.
I am now removing any golfing metaphors because I don’t relate to any person that lives a relatively cushy life playing golf (not that it means any of their hardships aren’t real — it just ain’t the way my stars have aligned.)
So yeah. Shit. Things are just too much some days. (some weeks, some years) I often feel blocked up and a bit lost. My head is often spent over hot flat tops and burners — clearing up the jetsam and flotsam that gets stuck in our sinks after a busy rush.
I think about healing, too.
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to escape trauma and I’m actually unsure there is a living being that doesn’t have it. Whether it is generational or from an ex partner or even parent (and honestly a combination of all the above) and it’s hard to move with that weight.
I also recognize I’m not really qualified to talk much about it, though there are ones I love so deeply that suffer from their wounds and pick at their own scars. It is inevitable. The thinnest line of reality and our history is rarely ever something we can separate, but past wounds and trauma are always important to pay attention to. Given enough time, we learn ways to heal and help heal others — ‘wounded healers’ was always a phrase I’ve liked.
I guess what I’m trying to say through all of this is that it’s okay to take a break from something if you’re unsure how to navigate it. You don’t always have to jump into an unknown and it is worth it to create your own safety no matter the cost.
It’s okay to mourn for the things we have lost and it’s also okay to be excited about change and the inevitable light peaking over the horizon.
Just know that we are all here, fighting for one another’s lives —
placing our own wounded hands on fresh scars while remembering our own selves, like old churches, marked with ruin and redemption.
I’ve been listening to this song Last Hope by Paramore every so often when I’m stirring grits or baking off biscuits in the morning. It kind of fills me up with something that feels a lot like pop rocks hitting your tongue or fizzy soda.
It’s to no one’s surprise that I get inspired by seeing other people talk about what sparks them. I am unsure if a cook like me can be considered creative, artistic or just mildly lost in the sauce, but I can assure you that a spark can be enough.
That’s kind of what the song talks about. I have always been drawn to the metaphor of light in dark, or a Great Hope that pushes into the darkness when all hope is lost. It’s that deep knot in my gut when a story feels so incredibly bleak that the smallest bit of hope keeps it all moving forward.
I’ll admit that times have felt dark. I cannot separate myself from the pain the people I love feel — their fears and anxieties become mine more often than not. It’s also not something I try to run away from. If anything I hope to have the space to be open for you and to help carry it when I can.
I know a lot of you are carrying deep pains — deep fears — anxieties of all sorts due to *gestures broadly at everything*. I know I can’t feel what you feel, but I know that hope also lives in the cracks and broken things. Hope is always the last thing that goes, and that rarely is it ever the end.
I’m sorry there aren’t many answers to your questions. I know there are answers I’ve gotten years away from when they were questions — the answer changes, sometimes. You change. The world inevitably changes as it spins and that every damn day is a new challenge. I mean shit! I sprained my neck for two weeks because I slept on the bad side of a pillow.
The world we know is full of all the things. There are plenty of fine lines of beauty and pain, danger and safety. They are millimeters thin and they constantly ebb and flow.
Hold fast to the people that keep you in their hearts. They really aren’t that far away. More people are rooting for you than you think — even when you do feel alone.
Let it happen. Let it all move in you and outside of you — effervescent — sparkly — endlessly. Energy never stops, it just keeps moving, kind of like you, in and out of the light and dark — like a spark, moving towards another new horizon.
I read a poem once about being born wide open. To be exposed to all that heat and noise and wildness of the world right from the start. There’s no doubt a lot of you are the same way — everything seems to rip you open, again and again.
I often dream of another world. One that is maybe a little quieter, less harsh. The truth is, I don’t think that will ever happen and whenever I feel the room there is a growing sense of doom and discontent. I feel all of those things. Maybe some of you feel them too.
Things are supposed to change. Pants size. Taste. Politics. Religion. They all seem to shift as we meet people that share and challenge our beliefs. There’s no doubt mine have seen enough light and dark to make me wonder if any ground I’ll ever stand on will be firm again. I’m not mad about it. A lot of us are floating in some dormancy — truly unsure where the world will be by the time we’re no longer worried about having to be on time for work.
To be honest, I’m not too fond of people that are so sure of anything. Whether that’s faith or wealth or friends. I hold loosely to mostly everything but the fact that so much of what we face, we face alone. Knowing this moves through me with enough conviction to say that I need people — not so much for myself, but to know that I am moving and moving with them. There’s nothing wrong with being opened up. Spilled. Exposed to everything.
I feel less angry about things, these days. Medication helps. Hugs help. Animals (mostly) help. Time helps and heals. (Also, deep breaths.) I guess I should say people also help, though I am confronted by awful ones on a daily basis. I still believe that we’re mostly good and aware and want what is best for one another.
It’s okay to be made up of these parts just like it’s okay to be weary of the unknown. You can welcome as much as you’d like, just hold tight. It’s really easy to get filled to the brim. Some of us hold in a lot of your stuff as well as our own. Give us some space to let it settle.
Another poem I once read said that there are ‘thousands of ways to kiss the ground’ — and I’ve always read that as the person you’ve been, who you are and who you’re going to be are all different, and all capable of being fully alive. And not only alive, but thriving. Even when the weight is too much.
Keep yourselves born wide open. there are thousands of ways to kiss the ground.
Like most of you, I spend a large part of my day wandering around in my head — thinking about the last year and a half (or the last maybe 20 years or so).
Sometimes it’s hard to process a life publicly and having your friends and parents worry or take some sort of blame for who you are and how you turned out. I’m not saying my family didn’t impact the person I am today, but at some point you shift over into your choices and the events that made you who you are today.
There are plenty of people that I love that hold the impossible weight of their failures and short comings. I watch it weigh them down like an anchor slogging its way on the sea’s floor, whipping up bits and pieces of a scattered old world.
I’ve had to drop a lot of things to keep up forward motion. These days I just don’t have much room to hold on too tightly to anything. A lesson I learned early in my life is that heaviness and heartbreak are blind and reckless and fall on anyone, at any time. Learning that there isn’t a rhyme or reason for the world (or your tiny world) to fall on your shoulders holds some kind of strange creature comfort.
Most things are not your fault, and just by existing you are enough for this world.
Yeah, you’re going to whiff some things. You’re going to screw up and break someone’s heart (ultimately your own). Maybe one of the biggest things I’ve learned lately is that people are resilient as hell and most feelings really don’t last forever. Some of us are just wired differently. We hold on to things longer while still feeling them deeply — sometimes there isn’t justice.
Sometimes, we just have to live with a thing.
Being alive on this planet comes with responsibilities. One of the better ones is leaving it better than you found it.
Along the way, you’re going to find yourself wrapped up in impossible things. A work load that is too much — a failed relationship — maybe letting down your kids. (In fact most of you have already done these things and will continue to do these things because being human is a lot of responsibility and messing up is part of the gig.)
I feel like it’s important to create the space to mourn your losses. You can even keep them to yourself as wisdom. I would ask that while you hold them to not let them hold you back from experiencing more life.
I have seen grief and I have seen grief lived. What I want to say is that joy (and forgiveness) rips grief apart.
We’re all tired from *gestures broadly at everything* this stuff. Some days getting out of bed feels like chaos. That once my feet hit the floor you are moving and moving into something you can’t control. Make sure you give yourself some space from the chaos to collect yourself. Truly nothing gets better unless you do.
This is mostly my reminder to be good to yourself even with all the odds stacked against you. To put down arms and stop lobbing grenades for a while.
As my little friend Birdie says, “Hey guys. Stop. Just breathe.”
I’ll never be smart enough to be a scientist. I’m okay with the brain that’s been given to me — the brain I’ve made myself.
I’m fascinated by space and star stuff. If you know me, you know how I get all googly-eyed and rant about time and the enormity of all the things around us.
I am guilty of explaining black holes and relativity to a co-worker by clearing out our sink drain and explaining, “You see how water moves faster and faster the closer it gets to being sucked down the pipe?” In which case they most definitely respond “Yeah, okay got it” and act interested because I’m their boss and they don’t want to hurt my feelings.
I appreciate that.
There is something comforting about its mystery. It’s actually very boring to me when people know it all. Know-it-alls bum me out. I guess I really can’t trust a person who is really confident in anything. Then again, I’m wrong a lot.
Sagittarius A is the black hole at the center of our (Milky Way) galaxy. Isn’t that just a little terrifying to know we’re all circling down a drain? I mean, not just yet. In fact if that ever happens our solar system will be burnt up to crisp by our own baby Sun (that actually expands and gets weaker over time.)
You probably know that black holes essentially collapse everything beyond its Event Horizon (the point at which not even light can escape.)
But, they’ve learned that some things *can* escape.
I’m fascinated by these things because it gives me perspective and the space to imagine that nothing is quite understood, even at the apex of our existence. If we’re talking about black holes and time and space we’re talking about all of the things we are made of. As the famous quote hints at, “The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
We’re made up of this stuff. There’s no telling what has or hasn’t happened in whatever was before and whatever comes after us. If you’re edging near an existential crisis (or for me the second or third one this week) you can take some deep breaths and relax a bit. There’s not much you can control — and if cosmic perspective isn’t enough for you, the older you get the more you realize every single person is figuring it all out as they go.
The Great Mystery of life itself is awe-inducing. I crave perspective. I crave not knowing the answers because wondering is the best part of it all. Answers are definite and boring. (Which is probably why I didn’t like math.)
I do not have the brain of a scientist. Or a mathematician or anyone else that builds complex machines and technological movements. But I do understand that things like time and energy are not wasted — that life always moves forward and is always made new with each second. You are maybe dealt a shitty hand — but it’s never the whole thing. It’s never the whole of anything.
You have time to make things move again — breathe easy again — love again.
You’ll have what it takes to make your own space.
Your own whole universe, with the things you love (and of the love you give) drawn in to your own gravity.
I learn a lot from physics even if I can’t really understand the more complex bits. I suppose that’s okay given that I often stare into the bottom of a sink, draining anything that gets pulled into its motion. I often drift away into my own mind. (Maybe I just need a vacation.)
Maybe more importantly I’ve learned that in order to get from one place to another, you have to leave something behind. I don’t mean in the way of throwing someone out of a moving car (though we’ve all been there) – maybe more like learning not to carry it all – maybe like letting others help carry it for you.
You are not alone here. Your time and energy echo endlessly into the things around you. Move and rattle and make all sorts of noise.
(You are also under no obligation to make sense to this universe.)
If a thing can really escape a black hole (the literal Heart of Darkness), in its absolute crushing gravity and mystery, so can you.
At this point they’re a black canvas for egg yolk and mayonnaise and probably two different vinaigrettes. Cooking is gross.
I say that all the time. I mean, yes. It’s beautiful and romantic and sexy. All these things. It’s also gross. Cooking, for the most part, is learning how to deal with all the fat and water a thing has in it. Bones and blood, too.
There is a huge sigh of relief for all restaurant workers post Mother’s Day — maybe even a worse cooking day than Valentine’s — Or the day after (or before) a major holiday. I don’t quite understand it. Then again, I don’t get out much these days. Knowing the burden of feeding and taking care of generally unpleasant and hungry people makes me hesitant to put my needs on anyone during this time. (Or at all, really.)
My brain is fried, and fried hard. Or maybe it’s scrambled.
Sorry, have eggs on the brain. (And my shoes but you know that already.)
At the end of our service yesterday, we all just kind of stood around for a while. Diners still sitting together, staring at their phones in silence, church clothes in tact. There was just too much to do. Dishes piled high in all three sinks. But we are relieved, and thankful that we worked hard for each other.
A lot of me wishes restaurant culture wasn’t this way, but I just can’t see any way around it. It is one of the only (and truly) humbling ways to make a living. That ticket that hangs in front of you and the person waiting at their table for it to be delivered with some small amount of kindness and skill — it’s a kind of pressure that brings out the worst in a human.
We have the best crew we’ve ever had. They are funny and smart and we all hate ourselves just enough to keep pushing forward. (Just kidding kind of) Oh, and just hard bodies, yo. We all moan when we sit down together — those are the best times. Decompressing with your coworkers about “the bullshit” — the lady who asked for her eggs to be “not too runny, not too dry” or the man who has a dairy allergy but is okay with heavy cream in grits.
It’s a ridiculous pressure, to be honest. Most times I fantasize about cooking big pans of food and just throwing it into the dining room and letting people fend for themselves Golden Corral-like — but alas, there is still dignity to be won.
This won’t be the last hard day. But this was a record breaking weekend for our restaurant. I feel proud about that. I feel tired in the ways that I should, but I am proud that we are still here making a wonderful mess of things.
I gave my shoes a good scrubbin’ today. Stubborn and crusty and dirty with all sorts of bits from a day’s work, but I feel the most content as a tired cook.
My job is done for a day, my feet and back are tired. I splash some cold water on my face and look in the mirror, the weight you carry for the things you love.
Some, more than others. That’s not unusual when things are “normal” and especially not right now. It’s true that some of us are more sensitive to the needs and energies of others, and that makes things louder and wildly more complicated.
Right now I’m not a big fan of the hustle culture. “What are you doing to get yours!?” kind of thing. The ‘push yourself til you throw up or blow out a knee’ kind of thing. But if that IS your thing, okay. (Just don’t try to normalize needing to push yourself to a breaking point — that’s kinda how we ended up in this mess in the first place.)
When it comes to cooking food for a living, we are very aware of the state of things. People eat for lots of reasons, I know. Beyond sustenance for now, I think we are feeding people who need comfort — who need to not cook for themselves out of being tired and at its very basic level, to just feed someone who needs something good.
That’s kind of the way cooking feels for me right now. I go home every day and collapse on my bed after jamming something probably full of carbs in my face and try my best to get a nap in. Maybe my anxiety will ramp up a bit or I will jerk awake by accidentally biting my tongue (because I tend to grind my teeth when I’m stressed and asleep.)
I wish, like so many others, it wasn’t so hard right now. I wish this work didn’t take as much as I did. I love cooking, and I love cooking for you — but it is exhausting and we are kind of on the burnt side of toast.
Maybe I’ve recently bumped into another person that appreciates my food (as well as my company and to be honest my goober sense of humor somehow…)
Maybe I decided to make this person ratatouille while watching a film set in Paris, while drinking some big french wines. Maybe I’m a sucker for themes. Either way, I’m glad I get to cook for a person from time to time that’s not expecting me to be anything other than myself. Or within a time limit where they have to eat or else I get a bad yelp review. I don’t know, it feels good and comfortable and most like myself when I cook for people I love to be around and take care of.
I thought maybe I’d post a recipe here because ratatouille is great way to eat some vegetables that are in season (or very close to it.) It’s my favorite Disney movie and also just really wholesome and delicious.
Ratatouille (feeds 4)
One large yellow onion One large yellow bell pepper One large red bell pepper Three cloves garlic One medium eggplant Two yellow squash Two zucchini squash Four roma tomatoes Fresh thyme 18oz. can diced tomato Olive oil Red Chili Flake Salt & Pepper & Sugar
Get your shit together: Dice up onion, peppers and mince your garlic. Slice 1/8 to a 1/4in thin your tomatoes, eggplant, and squash. Lightly salt the sliced veggies and let their water drain for at least an hour with paper towels. This will help your veggies not be so damn mushy in the end.
In a deep saute pan, heat up a few tablespoons olive oil. Drop in your onions, peppers and a generous pinch of salt. Let cook down for 15-20 minutes til onions become translucent. Add your garlic, tsp. fresh thyme and cook another 10 minutes. Add your canned tomatoes and cook down til half of the water cooks out (about 15-20min.) Stir every few minutes to make sure nothing is sticky icky. Add a pinch of red chili flake and sugar (taste for salt and heat and sweetness to your liking.)
Meanwhile, heat your oven up to 375F. When your onions and peppers have finished cooking, scoop a layer of the mixture on the bottom of a somehow shallow baking dish or pan. (At least 3-in deep.) Layer your veggies one on top of another into little stacks. Add a tiny bit of salt, pepper and fresh thyme between every third veggie slice til you’ve run out of veggies or are sick of making them. (For example: on top of the onion/bell pepper/tomato mix, place a layer of yellow squash. On top of that, a layer of eggplant, then zucchini, and lastly tomato. Add your seasoning and repeat.)
Bake for 40-45 minutes til tender and smelling good and sexy. I like to serve it with some crunchy bread that I’ve toasted lightly in the oven with olive oil — and after baking rubbed down with a raw garlic clove. The best part of this dish is how cool it looks when you serve it. Everyone gets a stack or two veggies on top of the tomato mixture. It smells so, so good and really does make you feel good eating a pile of vegetables honestly.
So there. Eat you some vegetables.
And take it easy on yourself. It won’t always be this hard. There are plenty of people that love and think about you with a lot of light. Send it back their way, too.
I had moved to a new city to get married and graduated into an economy that didn’t have anything for me.
As it turns out, when you live in Portland, there’s always a coffeeshop looking for help. Granted, a friend of mine helped me get in, but I had no industry experience. I started out mainly washing dishes. Taking orders. Getting yelled out by customers because I made a mistake taking their order. All of the bits you have to learn to make a hard shell over your soft skin.
I started to cook because it was a way to show who I was to people I didn’t grow up with.
I wasn’t very good at it. I knew how to fry chicken, and make rice a roni. I could pop open a can of green beans and douse it with Tony Chachere’s. It was the only thing I really wanted to be good at. My friends were better at other things that I knew I didn’t want to do.
I really wanted to be that daunting figure in the kitchen sweating and cooking.
It was something that seemed so wildly complicated, that being able to control it felt kind of God-like. Listening to an egg cook or smelling when onions cook too long was becoming something that I could thread in and out of my daily life like a coat made just for me. Hell, now I can hear the moments water goes from simmer to boil with pretty good accuracy.
Cooking helped me open up. It became the thing that gave me some authority on anything, really. I knew that I could poach an egg with confidence or crank out a delicate vinaigrette on the fly. It gave me the confidence I’d been missing my whole life.
I was obsessed with something I knew I could get better at every day.
Even the hell of falling out of love with a person, the kitchen became my way to block out pain and still maintain some sense of purpose. “Well, at least I have this” I would say. (And still say that at times.)
Kitchens can and will break you down. Every cook knows that there is a point in any given day where it breaks you. Most days, it doesn’t. You have a hope in the back of your mind that your day can be somewhat normal. You will maybe, go home and actually cook dinner for yourself and partner.
But, something usually happens.
The drain in the dish pit over flows with grease and food bits and God knows what other hell. Or your anxiety decides to overwhelm you in the middle of service and you blank out. You turn into a robot of yourself to get through the day. It’s all happened, and it will happen again.
There is something incredibly addicting about a restaurant that works, day after day. All the deliveries came at the best time. No one was out of the cheese we needed and our Coke delivery guy wasn’t an asshole for once. (And did I mention Sysco didn’t dump all of our boxes in front of our oven in the middle of the lunch rush!?)
And then the pandemic came.
Once the reality of having to shut down entered my bones, I’ll admit, I felt a bit relieved. Something felt so toxic about being open and encouraging people to cram into a small space when all the health professionals are telling you not to do it. (But if we don’t do it, we’ll drown as a business…?)
I couldn’t adapt fast enough. I felt like an immense failure. (Still do sometimes.)
I was completely exhausted.
Our business would adapt a bit and I would drink a lot. And order DoorDash. There was something so amazing about a brown bag full of hot food with my name on it sitting outside my door WITHOUT having that awkward interaction of someone catering to my lazy ass. It was incredible.
I got to turn off my phone alarms. Well, the ones that wake me up and the other four that remind me to order things for the restaurant — then there’s all my reminders about other things I need to do for the restaurant so that I can finally relax. Well, after the panic and anxiety died down after our first week of quarantine, I got to relax.
After a month and a half of doing take home dinners once a week, we got back into the restaurant on a daily basis. My work shirts almost didn’t fit because I had gained so much weight from well, *gestures broadly at everything*.
Kitchen work is hard, and if you don’t stay in practice, you get lazy, fast. You forget the motions and turns, the heat and the pressure. But by now, we are almost back to whatever it is I can call normal.
Wearing a mask while standing over a grill has taken some time to get used to, but everything is harder. Not just the labor, but people are harder. Things got way more political over our little break, but in order for us to stay open and busy, I never really got a chance (nor did I want the chance) to be political about masks. To me, it was just tiring having to defend it either way — I just needed to be busy again.
But it’s still really hard right now. For everyone. Those of us in the hospitality business are kept alive through people gathering together. The restaurant experience is about food and drink but most importantly, it’s about people connecting. Not just having people cook your food and serving you, but the people around your table.
The depression I feel most deeply, is that cooking and being a chef is shifting for me. It shows me how incredibly delicate all of this is — and when it’s stripped away, I wondered how necessary it all is. (I wondered how necessary I was.)
I love being a chef. It’s all I ever wanted, to be honest. It has been one of my proudest accomplishments. To have that name and that respect — but damn, it is hard to be inspired in times like these. Not only inspired, but to also inspire. To be strong, to be a leader and to make a million decisions in my head every day.
A while ago I was told I was emotional, which is fine and funny. It was by a friend that doesn’t know me very well, but it also goes to show me that being vulnerable makes leadership necessary. I don’t always feel strong enough to lead people, especially now. Most days feel hopeless for the future of anyone ever agreeing on anything (ever again). My own patience is worn so very thin, as is yours. I hate the aggravation I hold so close to the parts of me I love the most.
Maybe I won’t be a great chef, like the ones I read about.
And that’s okay.
But I’m still here, and I’m doing it.
I cook your grits and wash your plates. I lay awake at night hoping that whatever we bring to your table gives you some sense of normalcy.
I have always loved having you at my table — and I’m still dreaming of a future where we are all better people for doing the hard work of being good to one another.
In the meantime, I’ll be here, working in my hot kitchen, adding more cheese to that pot of grits (because I know you really need it today.)
A friend of mine said it best: “I’m not a fan of anyone who it too pessimistic right now. Then again I’m not a fan of anyone who is too optimistic, either.”
Most of the conversations I have with the people I love weigh heavy on me. Some of them, I hear tears being swallowed down as they (like all of us) march through the fog of uncertainty.
A few of my people are really hurting right now. They are quite literally falling around their own heart of darkness and when you love people, you can’t help but to fall with them.
It is too easy to be hard on yourself right now. That dense fog that looms over the next few months is so heavy and I feel it in my lungs, just like you. I fall asleep reading the same gut-wrenching stories and wake up with the hope that my morning coffee feels perfectly hot against the back of my throat.
I spent an evening this past week visiting my sister recovering from surgery. My dad was in town helping so I decided to make some pizza with my niece and nephews, while also catching up with my parents and hoping to get a few laughs in the process.
I’ll start out by saying I’m not great with kids, especially the smaller they are. I just don’t use that part of my brain very much. (Though being silly is so needed right now)
I don’t consider myself a good uncle, but I’ve always felt that as my sister’s kids get older, I’ll be better at it.
As I was getting things ready to make pizza, my niece Anna came and sat at the bar. I know so much about her but rarely do I get to see her face and hold a conversation for more than a few minutes because generally adults are boring and I don’t blame her for wanting to do other things.
But I asked her about cross-country and school and show choir. All things she’s really good at. I listened to her sound so bummed out that she wouldn’t physically be going back to school for another month at least and it equally bummed me out.
I looked at her and saw someone who is so much older than I had realized.
She is a person that is beginning to understand the weight of things and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not only is she entering the weirdest time of becoming an older human being, but in the middle of a pandemic — not being able to be with her friends as much as she wants and the uncertainty she also faces in her own future.
I felt some of my own anxiety die down a bit.
I’ve always seen this pandemic as a “row your own boat” sort of thing. The sea is whatever tumultuous thing we are facing. Between a depression, pandemic and civil rights movement, we are all clinging white knuckled to the sides of our vessels screaming:
I was thankful to hug my mom. My sister. My dad. Very rarely do we get those opportunities, as I am just as nervous as you to travel around and possibly expose either my anxiety or germs to other people that do not deserve them. But it’s good to air out your grievances. And it’s good to be respectful of others’, as well.
If you see another boat taking on more water than your own, help them. (But don’t sink yourself in the process.)
To my niece, I would tell her this:
It won’t always be this hard. Things will lighten. You will come out of the fog on the other side, thankful and cautious and ferociously hungry to experience more.
The things you’re learning about yourself now will stay with you forever. This year will be the year where everything changed — and it will be a pillar built on your foundation.
You will still have to move around those large rocks sticking out of the fog — some, you won’t see til’ it’s too late, but there are others that will help you — and I will help you when I can.
Maybe it’s everything. How does anyone not live a day without wandering in and out of the things they used to believe in and the people they used to be?
I often mourn parts of my life where I had less responsibility. More uncertainty, no doubt, but does getting older ever give you any certainty that you’ll become a better person? Or that the things in this world will ever be enough for you?
This quarantine has given me some perspective on my small space here. I found myself dumping loads of things from my past. A few pictures. Some books. Even the things I have found sacred in the past, I’ve dug up again to be both inspired and challenged.
It is a great unsettling of things.
It’s weird when pieces of your old self reappear and almost with a sense of urgency ask that you remember this piece of you that shifted the way you see everything.
I keep a small shelf with things from my life — things that were given to me by people I love, people who broke my heart and others who give me the most inspiration to push forward regardless of the gravity that pulls me elsewhere.
I found myself rearranging these heirlooms. These precious bits of a life 34 thus far.
A matchbox with the face of Che Guevera.
A metal cup from my time in India.
A feather from a friend I used to kiss and fall asleep on the grass with long ago.
Some toys from when I was young.
My old pair of glasses, broken.
Fountain pen and some ink.
I keep these things because they help me remember that every good thing shifts in you endlessly.
The bad too, but those things tend to dull over time.
I’m always amazed about how the things that broke our hearts into a million pieces still allow us to feel good about the time we had with them that were beautiful, and that they gave to us what we would have never found without them.
Sometimes you need the person you once were to step up and meet the person you are now. I know I look older by the day, and I often cringe at what I used to call a beard. Now, I still don’t grow the best looking beard, but I see the grey hair that comes with life and its weight.
I have little regret, but deep down in the still waters I know this whole thing is a gift. I embrace the challenge of wandering through this life with the knowledge that it’s not ever easy, and things that matter won’t ever happen quickly.
Sometimes being unsettled is the only way to move forward,
and I will always set my eyes there,
toward both the dying and birth of the new light.