Mining the moment for something that feels good, something to appreciate, something to savor, that’s what your moments are about . . . Abraham-Hicks
It has become a tradition for my friend Muriel and I, our rendezvous at the restaurant El Camino in Brunswick on my first evening back in coastal Maine for a weekend visit. After our buoyant greeting and our enthusiastic catch-up while waiting to be seated, we settle in for a long and luscious time together. We carry our journals to the table with the knowing that as we eat, we’ll plan our two days of creative activities and we’ll share the progress on projects-already-set-in-motion, two writers who are also two lovers of food, good food, locally-sourced and cooked soulfully and seasoned in ways that can’t help but set our tastebuds to soaring. And El Camino, a Mexico meets seaside Maine establishment tucked on a back street in this college town and housed in a funky old diner, is a place that doesn’t disappoint. It is always bustling in El Camino with families and couples and college students and all of us eager to feast on the entrees written carefully in colorful chalk on the black boards hung on the walls of each of the restaurant’s off-kilter rooms.
Once we settle into our seats, we continue our ritual, squinting our eyes to read each of the choices, from seasonal salads and soups to flans and cobblers. We read them aloud, almost taste each selection as we make our way down the list, ooh and ahh and savor this preview to what is going to come next. Because then it is time to order and our server has become a friend during these bi-monthly visits to El Camino and she knows that we are not holding ourselves back. We’re hungry and we’re ready for a feast so it’s the huge salad of fresh local greens no matter what the season with the cilantro-lime dressing that we order first and the homemade corn chips salted to perfection and served with what must be the best-tasting salsa and guacamole in the whole world, and then it’s on to the refried beans, sides of both black and pinto, and the entrees, one entree of Fish Veracruz and our vegetarian favorite, homemade Raja Tacos stuffed with sautéed greens and roasted squash and peppers and onions and seasoned to perfection. And then, it all starts tumbling to the table, in bold beautiful colors, a whirlwind of food, a symphony of taste and touch and smell, all here for the two of us to enjoy. And that’s what we do; we enjoy. We share. We savor. We linger and tell stories and comment on the bursts of surprise and pleasure as we bite into something unexpectedly wonderful.
Oh, it is wonderful, this prelude to a weekend of creative play with friends and cousins and siblings, this meal in which it is easy to be completely present, with Muriel, a dear friend, and with this food prepared soulfully and served with a gracious smile. It is easy to linger and savor and digest each morsel, each moment when you have the whole evening, when you have nothing else pressing against you to get done, when you are on a weekend retreat. But what about now? What about this moment? When you are not on a weekend retreat, not yet anyway, and it is three days before Christmas, and your to-do list is mighty and long and the time, it seems to be flying and you and your spouse indeed will be flying early tomorrow morning out west to visit your kids in Moscow, Idaho. How do you slow it all down and remember that is in the slowing down that the flavors pop to the surface, and the moment that you are living becomes a feast set before you to savor?
This morning, I sat on the living room rug wrapping presents, on the wool rug handwoven by women in Iran, and it happened. I’m not sure how it happened, but, in the midst of a day that I’ve deemed busy, I remembered to breathe. And I slowed down for a moment. And on the breath’s exhale, I felt the heft of the rug beneath my kneeling legs and I was dazzled by its rich blue color, the color of a sunny sea. And I looked around our living room and was struck by the two golden walls and the two terra cotta walls and the art that I could almost dive into because I love it so much. How could I let a moment like this pass me by? How could I forget to chew it up? How many moments do I gobble down, swallow whole without appreciating their particular seasoning? When I returned to the task at hand, something had shifted. The beauty of our home stayed with me, was inside of me, is inside of me now — just as the deliciousness of my meals with Muriel remain ready to bob to the surface in any moment that I think about them. When we savor our meals and our moments, they are pressed into us, pressed into our cells and into our souls and we remember that our lives are a feast.
So that’s my wish and my intention as I move forward, moment to moment — some full of noise and some spacious with silence — through this holiday season and into this new year