Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finding Joy

It's 12.27 am now. I just biked home from the movie theatre and should probably go to bed, but I can't. You know those rare times when something finds you at precisely the moment you need it? Like a book that you find yourself picking up from a used bookstore that ends up changing everything, or a long forgotten photograph that falls out of your old purse and makes you smile for the rest of the day? You didn't know you needed that book, that photograph, that phone call or that song, but afterwards you realise how very much you did. Well, tonight I went to the movies and watched Julie & Julia. It's a movie based on two true stories - one of Julia Child, the other of Julie Powell. I wanted to see it for the obvious reason - it's a whole movie about cooking and food.

But I was wrong. It's a movie about finding your joy, following your passion. And the only way to find joy is to be fearless. Fearless. A simple two syllable word for what is, without a doubt, the most difficult thing any of us can ever aspire to be. To live fearlessly is the ultimate freedom. To live fearlessly is to follow your heart without doubting that it will lead you to joy. It sounds simple enough doesn't it? Ah, but it's not, because there are the all those 'buts' that get in the way. But what if I fail? But what if people don't like me? Or love me? But what if I can't find my way? But what if I can't make ends meet? But but but but but....

I'm afraid of so many things it sometimes makes my head spin and my heart tumble around on itself. I'm afraid to believe I am a runner. I keep saying 'I'm not a runner', even as I tie up my laces and get ready for a 16 kilometer run. And I keep insisting I'm 'only' planning to complete a half marathon, no time goal for me because I am clearly not a runner.

I'm afraid to write. Most days, when I sit down to type something out, I simply can't. I'm afraid it won't sound good, that it'll be boring, that it will be cliche and people won't get it. I end up deleting a lot of what I write because it's not at all what is in my head. How do I make that leap? How do I get what's in my head onto the screen without making a mess of it between the time it takes to travel from my brain to my fingertips. I'm afraid of failing at what it is I want to be. I'm afraid I'm not a writer.

I fear my love of cooking and baking. I realise that sounds ludicrous, especially because anyone who knows me, knows that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for someone that's fearful of preparing food. But it's true. I'm afraid that I'll never master the art of cooking. I'll just be adequate at it. And as for baking, well, quite frankly I'm afraid that I indulge in baking as a means of self-therapy. So I try to steer clear of baking altogether and stick to a relatively small number of straightforward meals that one really cannot muck up.

But something has changed recently. And this movie, Julie & Julia, gave me a glimpse into my own progress towards fearlessness. In the past month I have ran two races with intent. I told everyone else they were just tests, to make sure I can get through the half marathon. But I told myself to go out there and kick my own butt. And I felt like a runner both times I crossed the finish line. I've started this blog, which is my first small step towards re-entering the world of writing. There have been moments, even months, in the past, when I've believed I was a writer. But I didn't hang on the that belief, I got too wrapped up in getting through the days and figuring out my next moves. I'm forever distracting myself from the present with plans for the future. What is the point in that? Right now I am writing and that's all I have room for in this moment.

And as for my cooking, well that's going through a rather rapid evolution due to my forays into gardening and CSAing, which have had the combined effect of overflowing my kitchen counters and refrigerator with fresh produce of every sort imaginable. Suddenly, and without time to delay for fear of messing up, I have to figure out what to do with three heads of summer squash, two zuchini, a gazillion tomatoes, leeks, radishes, beets and an assortment of other vegetables that are begging to be prepared by little old me. So I am having a dinner party tomorrow and have no idea what will be on the menu. And I'm not panicking because I'm not afraid of screwing up. It's just vegetables after all.

I think I might be on my way to finding joy.

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