Thursday, January 01, 2009

with a measure of grace

with a measure of grace, originally uploaded by emdot.

Before enlightenment — chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment — chop wood, carry water.
— Zen Buddhist Proverb

I think you would be 100% safe to say about me "she doesn't really cook."

I think you would be 100% safe and kind of understating it, actually.

I don't cook. I don't like to think about cooking. I don't like to grocery shop. I don't like to think about ingredients. And don't even get me started about the pit of whirling, churning anxiety that curls itself inside my stomach if I think that something that I cooked would have to feed other people. Please, put me out of my misery (and yours!) and just let me go back to bed, turn out the lights and perhaps a get a prescribed shot of demeral (or some other anodyne).

So, if you were to know this than you would have been as surpised as I was when a cookbook jumped out at me on my last day in Flagstaff, Arizona. It didn't really leap as much as greet me open-armed and warmly; beckoned me with a wide smile and encouraging lifted brows that said "wanna be friends?"

I'd found the book in the back of a mountain sports store, aptly named The Mountain Sports Store. It was across the street from our hotel and I liked (no, loved!) everything inside its doors. The clothes, the atmosphere, the shoes, the water bottles. If I'd been a wealthy woman I would have bought it all.

When I saw the book I didn't so much see it as find it in my hands. And then my body in a chair. And then me opening up the pages. I perused it for 15 minutes or so, decided that I was still on a traveling budget and put the book back on its shelf and tried to memorize its name (Hells Bend Grill was what I came up with later when I tried to recall it. That and "In a State of Grace," equally ineffective when trying to find the book later via Google.).

About four hours later I went back to the store. Of course the book was still there. (It was there with 7 of its twinned brothers and sisters). This time I really did memorize its title and again left the store empty-handed.

15 minutes later and I was back again for a third time, which as we all know is a charm. So the book has come home with me and for some unknown mysterious reason I find myself really, heartily, sincerely and with anticipation, wanting to cook every single recipe in the book. And so I might. I might. I'll start small with something from the Winter section and we'll see how it goes. Regardless of outcome, I like the idea of shopping for the ingredients and spreading things out and mixing them together, and then sharing them with others. (Who AM I? I am still wondering.). (This is not the self I've known for many years.).


It's a new year and I am really excited about it. Open and relaxed excited. Not wind-up poodle excited. :) Hello 2009. It's good to meet you.


It's been hard to find my "word" for 2009 as it seems that I am striving more for a practice, than a word. A commitment of sorts to a routine that I know will bring me more time and health and creativity. But how to sum that up in a word? I thought of SURRENDER, as in surrendering to this practice. But surrender seems to come with some baggage and baggage I don't want.

Then I thought of ACTION because this routine is really about me getting out of my head and gently shifting from talking to doing. But for some reason action seems wrapped up with frantic motion, which I don't want. I don't want re-action either. More like easy-does-it this is how we approach the day god-damn I love my life doing than some kind of squeezing motion into meaning.

Then I thought of RELEASE and this one actually comes the closest. Release is a sequal to last-year's word which was declutter and is actually still a process I find myself very much in. I find release corny, but also succint and pithy. Anxiety? Release. Old stuck habits? Release. Jumping to conclusions? Fear? Numbing out? Dumbing down? Release release release.

Release just may be the word.

But then this morning, while perusing my new wonderful cookbook (which is really so much more than that), I turned a few pages and I found myself looking at the proverb at the top of this post. Chop the wood, carry the water. Chop the wood, carry the water.

As a Buddhist, this proverb holds dear meaning to me. I've also heard it as "after enlightenment, the laundry." I love that as well. To me it means, all that is well and good, but now get back to the basics. Keep going forward. Don't get stuck in the whirlpool of dwelling or fretting or making mountains out of molehills. Or, "yes Marya your ideas and plans and schemes and visions ARE brilliant. Now go to work and don't forget to brush your teeth."

And so there it is:

The word: Release
The theme: chop the wood, carry the water
The surprise: baking something
The future: Warm and welcoming and hello 2009


This photo was taken on our last day in Flagstaff. 7s had gone on a photowalk. I was sitting on a stool in front of this wonderful picture window, sipping a hot toddy and finally finally finally catching up on Life Online (those of you who follow me on Twitter experienced my glee that day in a barrage of silly tweets). And I was crushing on my new book so I decided to photo it in the lovely town of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Thank you Flagstaff. :)

1 comment:

Pillowfight said...

I love this entry. That is all :)