Friday, February 25, 2011

Conversation: Lost and Still

I was lost. It was as if I was floating in space with nothing tangible around me and the sun, moon, and earth blotted out by my inability to comprehend. I normally find comfort there. I like the feeling of non-attachment and distance. It helps me see and experience things others miss. This week, I just wanted to sink back to earth and feel solid rock. I'm tired.

Nothing extraordinary happened. Nothing inconsequential happened. Nothing really happened at all. That's what started it all: I didn't want nothing. At least at that moment. I just wanted a little motivation and some inspiration. I just wanted movement.

The trouble with waiting is that it truly is a tragic beast. Once the seed of want roots itself it is hard to see what is right in front of you. I had inspiration everywhere. It was there in the films by women I found this week that told tales of gratitude and dalliances with sheep and beetles eating hearts. It was on the bus in an overheard conversation of amazing boundaries being drawn by a young woman with her ex-lover. It was in a speech by Chrystos about shedding colonizer thinking, not being boxed by identity, and strength in struggle that is not self-less. It was everywhere around me all the time.

So too was motivation. Resumes were submitted. Meetings were attended. Conversations were had.

Still I was lost. Still I felt like my apartment looked: disheveled by contractors who were putting in a new window and drywall thanks to a leaking ceiling and wall. I just wanted to put it all back and ignore the water on the floor. At least on the surface it would look tidy.

This lostness crept into my cooking all week long. I made disastrous meals that didn't satiate taste. I tried my hand at an apple crumble and misplaced my mind when I poured in an extra half cup of milk. I still threw it in the oven hoping for a miracle. I took one bite, and no miracle was found.

On and on the week pressed as I, still lost, felt knots in my back and anxiety on my heart. I stressed over the meal to be shared on Sunday. I still hadn't found my inspiration and without it the food would never transform into cuisine.

Then, I stopped. I stopped looking and decided to observe.

I found myself in North Beach at a meeting with a coaching client. He sat across from me with the tools I brought between us. I shared youth development strategies, approaches and philosophies. I was doing my "job" not my role. As I was finishing up, I asked one final question, "Anything else?" He asked for help on one particular challenge. I was immediately unstuck. I listened and reflected and listened some more. Only then did I share a possible solution.

Our 30 minute session turned out to be an hour and a half. Not one of those moments was missed. Not once did I feel lost.

I set out from North Beach and meandered through Chinatown. A growing hunger begged feeding, but not any meal would do. I peeked in restaurants and perused menus. I had a vague feeling for noodles, but I didn't want chow mein.

I found myself peering in the window of Hon's Wun-tun House Ltd. of California. Not a single white person inside, I opened the door and took a seat at the counter. I placed an order for Sichuan noodles; five minutes later it came. I slurped up the fine angel hair thing noodles with the spicy shredded pork on top. As I looked up, I saw it: homemade wide noodles -- $2.50/pound.

It was exactly what I was searching for. I bought three pounds.

I'm now sitting in Portsmouth Square with Cantonese being spoken all around me and my fingers numbing. A tour group is in front of me trying dim sum treats. I am still except for the movement of my hand scribbling across this page. I am at peace.

I know I will find myself lost again. I know anxiety will course through veins and muscles will knot. I know that I cannot silence all of my wants. I just need to remember this moment -- the one where I became still.

I have two more days until my shared meal. Keeping still while wandering is how I'm going to make it there. I know magic will happen if I let go. And it will be called braised garlic greens with homemade noodles.

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