Monday, March 30, 2009

Grandma's good cooking

What is patriotism but the love of the good things we ate in our childhood? - Lin Yutang

Lately, I've been thinking about my grandmother's cooking. When I was small, and her fingers still agile, she would make me and my sister these delightful little animal-shaped pancakes (without the use or convenience of additional utensils). There would be raisins or chocolate chips for eyes, nose, and mouth. Sometimes, ears or appendages were made from fruit. And the taste... heavenly.

There were so many things she made in my childhood in Minnesota, that she doesn't or can't make anymore due to age. I remember home-made ketchup that packed a nice bite, and stews that contained ingredients that years of guessing would never yield. Whenever eating in that home, I always felt as if she had worked hard to create something that would provide health, as well as enjoyment. I suppose the love she instilled in her cooking was the one component that was never missing (or in short supply). I do miss that.

After all these years, the food consumed at my grandparents' home remains my strongest and best memory of my childhood. Thoughts of those meals brings me back to days when life was simpler (for myself if for no one else). And for whatever the reason, that feels like missing home.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Humming my way through life

We should consider every day lost in which we have not danced at least once. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I'm a habitual hummer. I can't help it. Usually, I don't even realize I've been doing it until I catch myself after some time or someone points it out. Some might consider this a nuisance. But I have to say, despite not always realizing I've started my little monotone ditties, without humming, my life might be a little less full.

Nietzsche might prefer my dancing to humming. I'm not much of a dancer, but from time to time, I can't help it. The right tune and the right mood, and before I know it, the sway of my hips gets the best of me.

Humming, dancing, singing (which I'm prone to doing in the car). All these things develop out of a personal joy that requires nothing outside ourselves, something so pure and honest, it defies explanation.

I dare you to sing or dance or hum everyday and not be contentedly happy. You don't have to be ecstatic every moment of your life to be happy. But these collections of moments over the course of a lifetime can be what defines us for the short time we are here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Shining Friends

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. - Nelson Mandela

Looking back, sometimes it feels like I didn't choose my friends. And maybe they didn't choose me either. Rather, there have been people in my life I was inextricably drawn to because they possessed something at the time that I didn't realize I was being drawn to, an unnameable quality. But now, after years of friendship, I'm certain of what it was that drew us together: a certainty in acceptance for who I am.

These people relish being their true selves. They're creative, witty, funny as all get-out. They are passionate and opinionated. And (perhaps most importantly) they fight for what they believe. And it seems that when I'm with my friends, I have permission to forgo the formalities, the insincerities, the complicated dance of interacting with others, be it co-workers, bosses, family members (just to keep the peace), or the pierced guy behind the counter at Starbucks (just to keep him from spitting in the coffee).

My amigos let me be exactly who I am, without criticism or disdain. And I do the same. The camaraderie that grows from these interactions are stronger than any that would require even the smallest amount of decorum. And for that, I am most thankful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Get up!

So, I got up today and thought, "My goodness, how long has it been since entering a daily thought?" It's been over a month. And, it appears that I've been quite lax this year, too. Truly careless on my part, I admit. As an apology, I offer one of my favorite quotes. Enjoy!

If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down. - Mary Pickford

What if Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, George Washington, George Lucas, and innumerable others had given up after a single defeat? What would the world look like right now?

Of these names, I have to admit, the one that scares me the most is George Lucas. Forget about the light bulb, the Theory of Relativity, the American Revolution. But no Star Wars? Good God, what a world!

Humor aside, it was my introduction to this ambitious film series as a small child that inspired the greatest creativity in myself. And so, on a personal level, to think of Mr. Lucas giving up after a few lines of script because it wasn't going the way he wanted, or after hearing "no" before "yes", or sitting behind a camera in a desert in Morocco and thinking, "This is just too hard" is almost too much.

The truth is, when you give up on your ambitions, your dreams, your aspirations, it doesn't just affect you and your experience. It affects your family and friends, and sometimes, a much larger community. Sometimes, your failure is a loss for the world.

And if you think about it, a comparison can show you that nothing is ever really "too hard". No loss is ever too awful to get up from.