Supper is hours away…
It’s Wednesday morning, August 24th. I am listening to the RAI Radio livestream in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that hit central Italy. I wash my face, and I can’t hold back my tears; I feel embarrassed for crying, but then I look at myself in the mirror, no make up, my eyes are red, the dark spot of melanoma on my forehead is quite visible this morning, and I don’t care. It is okay to cry. The more I stay sober the more I feel other people’s pain; sometimes it hurts more than mine.
159 people have died as of now; the small town of Pescara del Tronto no longer exists.
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When I live in fear I obsessively try to control life; I plan, schedule, worry, and I want to take care of everything and everybody. I can’t, and it’s frightening.
My tendency is to run the show from breakfast to lunch, and then supper, of course. I organize and strictly plan out work, finances, my future and the future of my family — the one that I was given at birth, the one that I was given when I married Ben, and the one him and I are building. I rigidly micromanage events, travel, and superficial things such as what to wear the following day.
On days like today, when another catastrophe has forced me to touch base with reality, I am reminded that all I have is this very moment, when my husband is sleeping, the neighbor’s dog is barking, and a gardener nearby is mowing the lawn, or trimming a tree.
Before I began to write this blog I pondered whether it was appropriate to use food as a metaphor, when people in my home country are suffering, when Louisiana is coping with another tragedy, when Haiti has not healed from its earthquake, and neither has Brazil, Bangladesh, or Japan.
But the news of this earthquake in a land that is home is what broke my heart today. So I follow, and make of it what I can.
Truth is, I may not be alive tomorrow. I may be hurt, injured in a terrorist attack, or I may be killed in a car accident. I may get sick, my house may be destroyed, the list, unfortunately, is endless.
So why do I waste the last few minutes before falling asleep on planning what my tomorrow will be? Do I really care about wearing the right blouse, or making the perfect dish for my friends who come over for dinner to be with me, and not really to eat my pasta? Do I live life in search of illusory perfection, or do I live life in appreciation of what I have?
Why am I living the current week waiting for the next one?
I ask myself.
The gardener has stopped mowing the lawn, my husband still rests, and the dog has started to bark again.
As I write, my heart is heavy. I dry my face, the radio reports more death, and devastation in Amatrice and its surroundings.
I am not special, and I am not exempt from the disasters of life.
Can I just be grateful and stay in my blessed today? Can I call a friend today, instead of waiting for that day when I’ll finally have time? And time from what? What’s my hurry? What’s my urgency today? Who do I have to refer to other than myself, my loved ones, those I see about me, and God?
Last night, a town slightly smaller than the one in which I grew up was destroyed. Today, a town as small as the one where, with my grandparents, I spent the most cherished years of my youth no longer exist on the map. The people who lived there didn’t know what was about to happen in the night of August 24th.
What were their thoughts and preoccupations before they fell asleep?
The earthquake shook Italy at approximately 3 am. They were sleeping, and in a handful of seconds their lives were destroyed.
It happened in Venezuela, in Myanmar, and in Mexico. Why can’t I learn the lesson?
I write this down to give myself a clear reminder that — as cliché as it sounds — all I have is today.
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On Wednesday August 24th I decided to not plan supper. I didn’t spend hours looking for a recipe to modify and nail to perfection. I spent my day as mindfully as I could; I donated to the Italian and American Red Cross, I went to the gym, and when supper came I baked salmon with simple ingredients that I gathered from the pantry while the oven reached 400°.
I wrote the ingredients on the recipe page, but don’s stress about it, just enjoy your dinner, give thanks for having a house, food, and a country that allows you to read this blog on the internet. And smile every time you get the chance; it’s more often than you think.