Cooking has always been something that brought me peace. The act of preparing food and layering in flavors to create palate-pleasing bites of goodness always makes me happy, or at least feel better. When cooking, it was easy for me to forget my worries if I needed to, or think them through in a more level-headed way as I worked through recipes. I would usually put on some music to match my mood, whatever it was, regardless of what I was making. Cooking is one of the therapies I’ve used over the years to keep myself sane; maybe that’s why I’m a little more fuller-bodied than many others.
I love to cook for large groups of people. When preparing for these types of moments, many of us bring out the good stuff, as in our good plates, glasses, serving trays, or other items to present our culinary masterpieces to our guests. We accumulate these items over the years as we grow into adulthood. When preparing for marriage, many couples go to a department store and pick out the set that will define their dinner table’s future aesthetics. They choose the dinnerware, silverware, and usually a fancy set of drinkware. Friends and family then invest in a curated future by buying them piece by piece until the full set is purchased. It’s almost as if it sets the expectation for newlyweds to invite people over and cook for them.
I never planned to get married, so I always equipped my kitchen with the types of items one would typically get as part of a registry. By the time I was 24, I had all the good stuff. I chose fancy deep blue transparent glass plates, I bought commercial grade glassware knowing that my friends can get a little rowdy when drinking, and I bought myself some nice silverware, but nothing too fancy. It suited the lifestyle I planned for.
What’s interesting about this is that once purchased, those fancy items usually end up stored away or in a cupboard until a day we deem important enough to bring them out. It’s a shame to have had your friends, family, or yourself invest in your beautiful future, only to have it kept away for fear of tarnishing or damaging it before a more important event. We block ourselves from living the life we envisioned by overprotecting inanimate objects we probably don’t need, and maybe never really wanted. We give value to those items and provide them with space in our life, but don’t value the day we are living enough to be celebrated it and use our fancy plates.
We do something similar with spirits and wines. We buy that special bottle, or sometimes it’s gifted to us to keep until a special day or particular date. Some are meant to age before consuming. We wait for that special moment to pop the cork and experience the drink we’ve held on to for so long. Some people hoard tens or hundreds, or thousands of bottles of old spirits and wines in basements, built especially for them! Imagine having so much money and space to plan for so many future special events and never realizing today’s amazingness to pop a cork and celebrate. I may be biased, but if I had enough money to hoard all that alcohol, I think I’d spend it on something more people could enjoy and spread the love.
I always said if I had, or won, a lot of money, I would take all my friends and family on the trips we always talked about but never took. I meant it when I said it. Over the years, I’ve prepared numerous itineraries that I started when a friend or family member mentioned that “We should go to…” and then named some random destination they wanted to see. I always knew I would be the one they would rely on to plan it when it happened, and I usually have to answer so many questions for them before we went that it was easier for me to pre-plan these adventures and be prepared when they finally called to say they were ready.
After the years went by, I realized many of them never planned to go on these trips, maybe it was just a wish they thought would never come true, or life stacked the odds against them, and traveling with me was no longer a priority, which was fine. We all take different paths, and sometimes the winds blow us in different directions. I never give up hope, though, and I’m prepared if the stars align one day so I can take those trips.
Through this project, I realized that I plan a lot. I spend so much time thinking about my future that I rarely appreciate or fully experience the present. I make to-do lists for everything. My lists are so long that I wouldn’t finish them unless I lived a hundred years and didn’t need to sleep. It’s completely mental.
Being present in the moment is hard. Dealing with what’s in front of me is complicated and consumes a lot of energy. It’s easier for me to plan a possible future than plan my day. I’ve been sitting with this as a thought for a while now. I think the reason is that I have so much passion and determination that it’s too much to focus on just one day. It’s easier to spread my mind and thoughts out to reduce the pressure on the moment.
When I look back, the times I was truly present in a moment, not planning or preparing but just living in it, I overwhelmed the others with me. I can be a lot for others to deal with sometimes. My mind works fast, and I care a lot about everything in my life profoundly. I’ve learned it’s not something I can suppress, and I shouldn’t have to, but I am conscious of how it impacts the others in my life, and I adjust where I can. I’m still trying to work through this and figure out how to move forward by spending more time in the present, and less planning a future that I could be living today.