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It’s easy to live safely. The recipe is simple: Put your heart someplace safe. Protect it from harm. Hold it, swaddle it, put it gently into a cocoon with multiple layers of padding + intensive wrapping.
But if you want anything from life, you must be stretched.
And if you want any part of connection, you must set your heart free.
If you want to connect, you must figure out a way to forgive.
Imperfectly, messily. With a hunger for life and reaching out again for the next, “What’s next?”
It’s a funny, tender tightrope, this whole “being human” thing. A heart is also a curious entity, designed to be so utterly tender, yet courageous and able to stretch with the happenings of life. Strong, yet surprisingly supple. Sensitive. Yet limitless in its ability to accommodate the stretching of life, of grief, of ache, of disarray.
Let it, oh! Let it, please.
Otherwise, the edges will curl and go brittle.
You won’t know what it’s like to take too many breaths before going underwater, or. be wondering if the pulse in your ears is from fear, or being so alive you feel electric.
Stretch with all the joy and grief that life offers, and every colour in between.
You are supposed to be a little un-nerved, a little too alive, a little off-centre, and a little buzzing from the business of living.
Forgive. You need this to connect, to love, and to live.
Our hearts are with New Zealand.
Why are we always in such a hurry? It’s because we ask more from ourselves in a certain amount of time and with a certain amount of energy than we can possibly give. We squeeze in one, two, or three last things into our days, only to be left feeling frustrated and vaguely empty because we are exhausted from the ordeal, or we have done everything superficially; everything from loving our families, finishing tasks, to taking care of ourselves.
While I absolutely follow the rule of “done is better that perfect”, and relish in the crazy productive dash that allows me my wind-down time at night, I think that we have become a generation obsessed with maxing out our time, getting more “bang for our buck”. This includes working hard, and partying even harder. Why does everything have to be “done” before we are content? And what content is there to be gained by just wallowing in nothingness afterward, exhausted and unable to connect? Is it because there is no expectation of us? Or because we are so hampered and hemmed-in by daily demands that we long of simplicity and some sense of personal freedom? And why should an email inbox produce such anxiety in people that we dread opening our eyes in the morning?
I think that pushing ourselves sometimes is correct, that we should be pulling out all stops sometimes. But these should be for exceptional events, like a baking all-nighter to create something beautiful for a child or family member, the unexpected creative project, the 5-hour long Skype session with someone special. Because that is the right and human thing to do. Because we are made of love.
But I don’t believe in using ourselves up like some inexhaustible resource. We are not designed for that, and it’s just not sustainable. So how do we deal with this?
We can choose to get kinder and clearer on what we can actually do in a day, an hour, a spare 11 minutes. We can choose to be kinder to ourselves when we do not finish something, knowing that we have done all that we can in a day. We can choose clarity of planning and thinking more deeply and comprehensively about things that matter. How conceited we are to think we can pull off anything amazing just because we decide to pour an excess of time into it immediately? What was ever created like that which didn’t drain the life-blood of the creator? Yes, there are some extraordinary exceptions, but everything worth having, be it a strong relationship, a creative project, a deep friendship, a beautiful composition, or raising a healthy and happy child, all require consistent, loving attention and time.
What if we did all our daily tasks in the time they should take for each of us, with full presence of mind, and the awareness to connect, laugh, reflect, consider, and be joyful?
And what if were to stop running around thinking we are each so special that we can each be superhuman, and choose the right amount of things to fit into the minutes that we have. Do each thing with care, and your days become so much richer + worthwhile than a blur of nothings.
Forgive yourself your beautiful humanity + tender vulnerability, and choose to live well.
From Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. This paragraph makes me “smile out loud” every time I read it.
Her word resonate with surprising urgency for us to embrace our creativity. So powerful for me to read now as I am in a period of intense writing + composing.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” you darkest interior voices will demand.
“It’s funny you should ask,” you can reply. “I’ll tell you who I am: I am a child of God, just like anyone else. I am I constituent of this universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me, and who labour alongside me. The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and a consequence of Creation. I’m on a mission of artistic liberation, so let the girl go.”
Now you’re the one doing the talking.
I am exhausted, but grateful.
This entire week, but today especially, has been a lesson in connection. I am so grateful for my Year 11 tutor group + my gorgeous Music kiddies who continue to challenge me to think, love, care and connect more deeply. Surprising, perceptive, full of fight, scrappy, big-hearted, generous, genuine, courageously raw + absolutely alive young adults who love and challenge me, and whom I love and wholeheartedly challenge right back. I used to be gentle about this, but lately, I find I’m absolutely all in. In on the hard conversations, in on the grittiness, in on the tough love, in on the massive belly laughs, in on the beautiful poignant moments.
I think I’m doing great, then I realise how much more I can do, or how much I don’t see until the moment I do see. I realise I need to look + listen MORE, catch the moments of connection, and be courageous in my words + actions. That each day presents tiny moments for me to be aware of, often out of my comfort zone, which I can choose to engage with.
I am exhausted, but so very grateful.
The conversations have been gritty, consuming, and revealing. But the connections have been powerful + very real.
Day 25: Vancouver, with San Francisco reflections.
And it feels like I have E X H A L E D.
I have loved every moment of this trip, and been inspired and had my senses heightened by all that I’ve felt, seen, experienced, smelled, lived.
But I have to confess, coming from the grittiness + contrast of San Francisco, from the wide expanse of sea along The Embarcadero, the buzz and rush of the city, and the stark reminders of human suffering and homelessness, I found myself on edge a little more. Just a little more alert.
My compassion rises up and I know that I must do the best I can to meet in the middle. Sometimes, I go quietly about my explorations, I do not stare or judge; other days I found the courage to buy a small contribution of food for someone in need. The most courageous? Looking these people of hardship in the eye and truly SEEING them. If I had fallen upon hard times, would someone have the courage to do this for me?
I am lucky beyond belief. Again, the tears well up fast and unbidden.
When I landed in Vancouver yesterday, it was like coming home. Half-way home, literally, and figuratively. I felt the weight lift off my shoulders, and the edge come away from me. I realised how much of a forward-motion, street-wise stare I had accumulated whilst exploring some parts of San Francisco and Washington.
With no disrespect to any of the places I have explored, I feel more at ease.
And I’m ready to go home.
Day 16: New York. The Butterfly Effect, where a smile begets another double its original size, and twice as heartfelt.
And THE magic moment of my day, amongst many, but THIS was the most poignant for me. It was such a reminder to me of how small a gesture can have such large repercussions of the best sort. That the tiny moments of kindness really do count.
p.s. Pictures today are courtesy of Olive et Gourmando’s Instagram + website. Look them up if you’re in Montreal!
The Email: 5th July 2018
Dear Olive et Gourmando,
I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for a wonderful + delicious breakfast yesterday morning, and especially to give thanks + appreciation to the wonderful front of house staff member who looked after yesterday morning’s shift, Wednesday 4th July.
It was ridiculously busy, and she was patient, professional and welcoming despite how much pressure she was under to get everyone seated and inside the cafe.
My apologies I did not get her name, but she was amazing.
I am travelling from Australia, Adelaide, and was recommended this place by friends who had recently travelled through Montreal. I am so glad I came and for me personally, it totally lived up to the recommendation and more, because of the care of your customers.
Keep up the fabulous work and food!
Cheers + thanks,
The Response: 11th July 2018
Thank you for writing us such a lovely email! I have to confess that I avoid the feedback inbox, but your message made my day.
It is so wonderful to receive kind and generous feedback such as yours. For the most part, when a client takes time to write, it is to share a complaint rather than give a compliment. Evie, our front of house that morning, was so touched. We’d have you back any day. Please come back and visit us!
While we welcome negative feedback and understand that it’s all part of the job, I won’t lie and say that for sure it’s way more fun to read an email such as yours. It just puts you in a good mood for the day and motivates you to work harder + better, rather than reading all about the negatives when you’re trying to do the right thing by everyone and not let your customers down.
We sill share this with the whole team!
Safe and happy continuing travels, and hope to see you back at O+G one day. We’ll save a table for you, no matter how busy it is! 😉
Co-owner of Olive et Gourmando, Montreal.
And THAT totally made MY day! 🙂
My daily goals in my travel journal. Created this page today whilst procrastinating doing my school reports.