In his light blue and white trimmed terrycloth bathrobe, my dad would slice an onion while standing in front of the toaster.
His bagel, always cut in thirds, was sentenced to incinerate for all of eternity in the toaster until it could pass for the charred remains of a house fire.
And he didn’t just slice the onions mindlessly like some haphazard short order cook in a roadside diner daydreaming about women and better days to come. Just the opposite. He handled the kitchen knife with precision and purpose reminiscent of Toshiro Mifune in Korosawa’s “Seven Samurai”.
I’d have Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” playing for him on the stereo. He’d always smile from it. Maybe because it reminded him of his younger days. But that’s not true at all. My dad didn’t self reflect like that. He was just simply happy in that moment with his Brubeck and his breakfast.
It’s the same album I’m listening to now as I sit here wide open to these memories. And it’s the same album I’d play for him years later as he lay there dying in the hospice as if it would somehow defibrillate him back to consciousness.
With that said, there are tears in my eyes now like there used to be from watching him cut onions as a kid.
I didn’t know back then why I used to be so transfixed on him preparing his food but I do know why now. It was in order to have something to hold on to when I had nothing left.
But I have to ask, is there a purpose to all of these words?
I guess we won’t know until we know. What seems insignificant today might be the most significant tomorrow. The meaning of things change as time passes or we pass through it.
I promise you, it’s really all okay. So please just let yourself off the hook and breathe easy for awhile.
It can be tough, even in the best of times, to be in a human body. And these my friends aren’t the best of times. Obviously.
And just look at the pressure we’re under from social media. It’s a constant barrage of “choose to be positive” and “you’re responsible for your happiness” and “look at how great my life is compared to yours”.
But fuck all of that.
Life is scary.
And although it’s never the time to be ostriches and stick our heads in the sand, we’re not going to find much relief with the pie-in-the-sky approach proposed by “spiritual leaders” whose every other post is about Bill Gates or how they’re protected from COVID-19 because they’re not scared of COVID-19.
So, how can we eventually feel more okay and even more grateful?
Stop striving to be.
Your mind may just settle down on it’s own. The physical anxiety in your cells may just dissolve.
Think of pouring soda into a glass. The bubbles on top eventually just stop bubbling up. They calm down. On their own. Without any action on our part.
But Gabe, are you just talking out of your ass now to get people to read your new post?
This and exactly this and nothing more, was the only thing that saved me today.
I was standing in the rain on the beach trying to force myself to feel more okay and more grateful (because I have so much to be grateful for but knowing that, as you know, doesn’t always make you feel better) but the more I tried to control my mind, the more resistance to it accumulated.
And resistance, at least for me, is the gateway for anxiety come crawling into my body.
But then, out of nowhere, this thought appeared in my mind: maybe it’s just okay not to feel okay.
And then, surprisingly quickly, I just felt more okay. More at ease. And more grateful. But organically so.
So, if you’re not feeling so hot today, I hope this helps.
With that, thank you as always for trading your time for these words.
No, not the day to day life. That obviously undulates. Love. Losing love. Good health. COVID19 etc.
I’m talking about life itself. What animates us. As well as the trees and millipedes and narwhals etc.
Isn’t it miraculous that the chair I’m sitting on right now as I type to you is composed of similar elements as my human body but yet I’m alive and it isn’t?
It’s like Life is a visitor. It stays with me day in and day out and then all of a sudden, unannounced, it leaves.
Thinking aloud about this just makes me want to be more kind to myself.
Maybe I will be – starting now.
Fewer judgements of my thoughts I don’t like. Fewer judgments of my body. Fewer judgments of my judgments.
And maybe if we were all a bit kinder to ourselves, we’d be kinder to each other.
And if you’re reading this right now, thank you…
P.S The crazy thing is, I had no idea, at all, where this post was going to go when I started it. It took its own path. Just like the river of Life. I just knew it was time to write something so I did. And I’m grateful I listened to that inner nudge. So, with that, if you’re still reading this, I’m breathing with you.
If you’re scared and/or lonely tonight, I understand completely. And I’m with you.
It’s tough to be in these bodies of ours sometimes. Especially now.
So, please don’t judge yourself too harshly. Or allow the judgment of others to get to you to deeply. And please let go of the comparisons you might make between yourself and the facade of perfection, joyousness, and having-their-shit-together you’ll see so often with people on social media.
Just be authentic. And be kind to yourself. And to others. We’re going to get through this. And with that said, I’m giving you a hug through my phone right now.