You know those moments when a bunch of signs seem to show up at once, all pointing toward the same thing?
It’s World Mental Health Day, and this morning I posted something on Instagram about my ongoing effort to live in the present. This summer I told a friend of mine that, for the first time in my life, my main priority was to have good days and good memories.
I meant two things when I said this. The first is that I’ve become less concerned with the big picture of my life and more focused on moments. It’s the direct result of coming out of a depressive spell. All of the grandiose expectations and judgment that we apply to our lives feel ridiculous when you’ve just taken a long trip to your own darkest places.
On the other hand, any moment of joy, any sliver of light, feels priceless.
I also meant that I’d be willing to do what it takes to accumulate more good moments. For me, this means getting out of my head and into the world.
I’ve actually been doing what I said. I’ve been living for precious moments and taking life one day at a time.
I’ve learned that it takes both discipline and courage to live in the present. Discipline because my mind is always darting fearfully into the future or regretfully into the past. Courage because inhabiting each moment as if it could be the last encourages me to take risks. It’s easy to delay things like self-expression, vulnerability, or trying new things when we tell ourselves that we’ve got endless time. (We don’t.)
Speaking of yoga, I was thinking about this in yoga today. I was also having a good cry, because I’m wrestling with the unavoidable consequence of living more courageously, which is failing and getting hurt. I had my eyes tightly closed as I muscled through a posture, and my teacher gently said, “eyes open, Gena.”
She probably intuited, as all really good teachers can, that this was the right thing to say in the moment.
I opened my eyes. The pose was no less hard, but a bright, focused, and forward-looking gaze, or drishti, did help. It reminded me that I’m able to face what’s going on, to take life as it comes without hiding.
When I got home, my friend Kim had posted something on her Instagram that stuck with me. It’s poetry by Mel Eve, and it reads,
The words reverberated. Depression has sparked my desire to live when I’m able to live. Living ushers in both pleasure and pain.
But Eve is right: the cost of regret is equal to the cost of failure. It may be a higher cost, actually, because we usually know what failure will cost us, but we don’t entirely know what can happen if things work out. The best things that have ever happened to me are things that I couldn’t and didn’t predict. I collided into them while I was busy living, out there in the big, beautiful, sometimes scary world.
I’m starting a new week with eyes wide open. Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
A perfectly fluffy vegan apple cake.
What a beautiful, colorful roasted eggplant salad.
Olive herb sourdough, yes please.
I need to roast parsnips more often.
I promise you that I’ll be veganizing these cookies soon!
1. It’s upsetting, yet amazing to watch this time-lapse map of Covid-19’s spread across the US, via Kottke.org.
2. NPR did a special report about food insecurity around the world. It features profiles of individuals who are struggling to stretch the food they have for themselves and their families. It’s heartrending.
3. The writer of this article notes that men who are hyper-focused on working out are often able to mask their disorders as “fitness.” I also like that he calls attention to atypical anorexia, in which a person demonstrates anorexic behaviors and the telltale terror of weight gain, yet does not have an underweight BMI.
4. An examination of the upsides and downsides of professional envy.
5. Finally, a thought-provoking look at facial recognition software and its limitations.
Sending you love on this gray and chilly autumn Sunday in NYC. Till soon.
Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you’ve been enjoying some restful time and sunny weather. I’ve had a busy weekend so far; last night, I had the honor of teaching a vegan cooking class at Haven’s Kitchen here in New York. It’s a beautiful space, and it allows for cooking classes of intimate groups (my class had ten students). We got to know each other, cooked five recipes from Food52 Vegan, and then sat down to a late dinner, so that we could enjoy the recipes…
This week, two people who are close to me were waiting for news about their health. They both got the news they were hoping for, and a few days later, my oldest friend welcomed her second child into the world. Things happen all the time that make us stop and reconsider what we have. Sometimes the things we fear come to pass, and we find ways to move forward, to cope with them, to make peace with whatever realities they bring. Sometimes wonderful…
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Happy sunday morning, friends. I’m in New York, spending some time with my bestie, Chloe, who’s in town to help prepare for her little sister’s wedding. It’s been dry and sunny and not-too-hot here, which is a delightful change from last week’s heat wave in D.C. I hope you’ve had nice weekends. Here are some recipes and reads to enjoy as you transition into Monday. Coffee freak that I am, I’m sort of perpetually on the hunt for a perfect vegan coffee creamer….