Tim Wrightman, a former All-American UCLA football player, tells a story about how, as a rookie lineman in the National Football League, he was up against the legendary pass rusher Lawrence Taylor. Taylor was not only physically powerful and uncommonly quick but a master at verbal intimidation.
Looking young Tim in the eye, he said, “Sonny, get ready. I’m going to the left and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Wrightman coolly responded, “Sir, is that your left or mine?”
The question froze Taylor long enough to allow Wrightman to throw a perfect block on him.
It’s amazing what we can accomplish if we refuse to be afraid.
– Michael Josephson, www.charactercounts.org
The quiet night is surrounding the house. Outside is pitch darkness, apart from a single street lamp, a star sprinkled sky and far away city lights, blinking on the other side of the ocean. All is peaceful, all is calm. This is where I return when I need to recharge my batteries. The countryside. Where you can still smell the smells of nature and get revived by her astounding colors. This is where the word beauty still makes sense, because it does not refer to something fabricated. It is “au neutral.”
Here it is easy for the mind to wander, at the same time as I am much more present in the moment than I ever am in the big city. I feel so alive when I walk through the fields, or bike along the country roads, when I pick berries or splash through puddles, when I run down a hill or gather elderberry flowers in summer, when I sit holding a fishing rod for hours, staring out at the sea, or when I lie stretched out like a cat in the sunshine. Even in winter when all is mundane and brown colors paint the earth, I feel alive out here. The energy, the smells, the sounds, the colors…it’s as if they go through you, embrace you and awaken you. They fill you up some how. Light you up like a match stick with some sort of down to earth, yet liberating and free-flowing energy.
In the big city it’s easy to get caught up in things. I might be tearing my hair trying to figure out how to write a business plan that has some sort of original strategies within it, or how to finish a chapter in my novel, I might try to figure out how to fit in school work, company work and partying all in the same day…I might simply be completely caught up in life in general (or my latest discouraging romantic venture). Often that comes with fear, stress, doubts and too much excitement…what if, yes, no, maybe, shit, help, wow, oh my, haha…it’s like the exclamation marks never stop and you are swept around in a mad dance of some sort – you are so into it you forget to breathe, think, enjoy it. That’s when I need the countryside and in lack of that (or together with that) I need to cook. Because when I stand stirring some pot filled with vegetables that bring with them the colors and the smells of the countryside, then I feel that earthiness within me once more. It’s like it grounds me at the same time as my spirits soar. A friend of mine once said: “It’s a really busy day. Where do you KNOW you will find her? In the kitchen, baking scones!!!”
Cooking is like meditation to me – instead of obsessing about when and if I will ever find Mr Darcy (…or like right now…business plans), my mind gets caught up in smells and textures, trying to figure out what goes with what and how it will taste in the end (I never could follow a recipe…it’s too, ugh, I don’t know. Too structured. I just read recipes and then I, uhmmm, abuse them I suppose). Suddenly your minimalistic perspective has expanded and nothing seems that serious anymore. Because there’s still food, people, nature, wine and laughter. All hell might have broken loose, but will it last forever? Will there be a new tomorrow? Or can you at least enjoy that which is in front of you (hopefully a gorgeous meal and not a burnt pot)? And really, if Mr Darcy chooses to show up today, tomorrow or never, is there a point in even thinking about it? I didn’t think so.
Maybe it’s because I’m from the countryside that I need nature and cooking to feel calm, or maybe it’s universal. I don’t know. I just think there is something real and grounding when you work with raw materials. Some people might feel that way doing carpentry because working with wood must be very earthy, or maybe sawing, or painting (actually, I do feel that way about art too, but it’s slightly different because it’s more abstract and you don’t work with natural things unless you make a collage of shells or something). I know that me and my best friend have written ourselves off as mad several times when we return from the farmer’s market having spent way too much money on…you guessed it…carrots! And taken photos of some “cool” large beets we found (WTF?!). For me though both cooking and nature are simply invaluable because of how they make me feel. Today I found some teff flour left over from last time I visited my family, so tomorrow they will get to enjoy one of my crazy baking experiments (my dad never gets why I can’t stick to normal recipes…he has minor heart attacks when I visit him and drag out all the kitchen equipment and use ingredients he’s never even heard of…and it was he who taught me you should try everything, ha!).
So my point with all this rambling (I have a tendency to babble, I know, at least you are not having tea with me, then I talk even more…) was to say that when you get caught up in fear, in too much thinking about something, or just simply in routines – stop, breathe and go do something you love, because it’s bound to clear your mind. And as we know, people can manipulate you through fear, but if you don’t get scared, you have the upper hand. If you work on instead of in your business you have the upper hand. If you don’t live for that person’s next txt message, you have the upper hand (and you won’t end up doing a Bridget, sitting in your PJs eating ice cream, drinking vodka and singing “All By Myself” on top of your lungs – such a classic scene). Derren Brown once met someone who wanted to beat him up in the street. He asked the guy a totally random question and he got so shocked he sat down and started weeping (if I remember the story correctly). It’s an old mind trick – get someone distracted and suddenly they will forget everything they intended to do and say to you. Now I suggest you do the same to yourself! Whether that is to practice karma sutra instead of worrying about your mortgage (it will still be there, you are just more likely to get inspiration on how to earn the money to pay it back whilst doing inspiring exercises), or play golf instead of ripping your business partner to pieces (because he hit on the woman in the office next door before you got a chance to make a move and that was just not very business like, now was it? lol).