Existing in the middle
Better breakfast for better living. Spelling is a spell. And a poem about the part where the magic happens.
This morning I sawed off a thick slab of sourdough from a fresh country boule with a crisp and perfect crust then I topped it with a slice of marigold orange heirloom tomato, avocado sprinkled with sea salt and lemon, sun-dried tomato, microgreens, a bright yellow hot banana pepper from the garden, and a runny farm egg.
At some point I started feeding myself like someone I love.
It took me a really long time to get here.
I’d like to sit with it a moment.
Which is what writing allows, isn’t it? —space to be with. An idea or an image, a memory. What we’d like to remember. Desire, dissatisfaction, a different story. Magic.
I’m turning left. Come with me.
Last weekend I attended a three-hour workshop hosted by the School of Embodied Praxis on rest as a radical and creative imperative. Alexx, who is exquisite, said many wise and excellent things. I wrote so much of it down, including this:
Spelling is a spell.
What we write down—that is, what we say to ourselves—matters. It reflects a choice, however small or subconscious, we’ve made. It’s a way to name our attention, an object of focus, where we invest our energy.
Spelling is a spell, said Alexx, so I looked through all the notes I’ve taken this year, from phone calls with friends, monthlong workshops, afternoon craft talks, Monday card pulls, morning pages. And I could sense the animal I’m trying to be, the shape of the life I’m calling in.
These are spells I’ve cast over my days. Bread crumbs back to heaven. It’s lovely, seeing the path from there to here, then to now. How what I write down shapes what I do, how I move, what I choose. A list of snacks to feed my friends. How I’d like to feel today. A poem I can’t stop thinking about, floor plans for my future home.
These little notes, they’re seeds. Reminders how to be. What to pay attention to, what to wonder, what to try. What to make, or not, for breakfast. How to treat myself like someone worth caring for.
If I write it down enough—be good to you—
eventually I am.
Anyway here’s a very nice poem I.S. Jones once shared with me and others. It’s about risotto, and other things too.
Because the most difficult part about making something, also the best,
Is existing in the middle,
Sustaining an act of radical imagination,
I simmered a broth: onion, lemon, a big handful of mint.
The phone rang. So with my left
Hand I answered it,
Sautéing the rice, then adding the broth
Slowly, one ladle at a time, with my right. What’s up?
The miracle of risotto, it’s easy to miss, is the moment when the husks dissolve,
Each grain of rice releasing its tiny explosion of starch.
If you take it off the heat just then, let it sit
While you shave the parmesan into paper-thin curls,
It will be perfectly creamy,
But will still have a bite.
There will be dishes to do,
The moon will rise,
And everyone you love will be safe.
the animal eats is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support this work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
There's so much energy and character in those handwritten notes 👏
Beautiful reflections. Thank you for being open and vulnerable and sharing your heart (and notes).
To experience things- moments, laughs, lives, trees, raindrops, you name it- without deciding what that thing could or should mean or what grand place it could take in life or what others may feel or think about it- is such a beautiful, challenging, and worthwhile effort. To create the space to simply experience this way is the work worth doing.