One morning, some time in my mid-twenties, I pulled out all the books off my bookshelf and sorted them into piles. I had a good collection of art-related books, a world I had recently decided I wanted to transition away from, at least as a career. So, what else was I interested in, and, how could I pursue that without going back to school? One of my tallest stacks of books was on food. Sustainable food, food justice, nutrition and cooking. The other was spirituality, atheism and the sociology of religion. I decided to give one of them a shot. I got a job at my neighborhood health food store. I became more involved in running my local CSA. I worked with a small group of individuals to start a Food Co-op in Queens, and I began volunteering at the Union Square Greenmarket run by the non-profit environmental organization GrowNYC. That volunteer gig at Greenmarket eventually turned into several full-time management positions within this organization I loved and thrived in for several years. It was during this time I developed an appreciation and respect for the seasonal nature of food and farming in the Northeast. Eating seasonally, local food was no longer only for nourishment.
It became a practice.
To this day it grounds me in presence by normalizing transition.
In our Brooklyn garden and at the farmers market what is available is always changing. As each item hits its cyclical peak it is at its most abundant, most flavorful, most nutritious (and btw, usually its cheapest too). It becomes the star.
When its peak passes unless I preserve it, which in and of itself is an act of being in relationship, I let it go.
I am present with the vibrancy of basil and tomatoes and eggplant – until I’m not. I am present with the cool grey of winter – until I’m not again. Through this I am present to the moments where I feel clear, confident and purposeful – until I’m not. And I am present to feeling messy, lost and grieving the season that no longer is. Until I’m not again.
Now, I’m not saying that it is always easy. If it was it wouldn’t be something I had to practice. Yesterday I met with Tamara, the founder and owner of Tangerine –– the studio I taught my first ever real class in, that I’ve grown up in for the past several years and that has been my home even as many other relationships with owners and studios came and went –– and I gave up my classes. It felt emotional, and it also felt like time. I will likely always be in transition, if I’m doing it right. That’s what happens when growth and inquiry are core values. Committing to following the ebb and flow of my internal seasons means doing so through the basil and the berries but also the Northeast winter. Thanks for being on this ride with me.