Saturday, April 9, 2011


It's just past midnight on Friday night. I meant to be in bed before now, but somehow... You know how these things can go, I'm sure.

This last week as I've been going places on my bicycle in the slightly warmer weather, rather than walking, life has taken on a whole new rhythm. And it's forced me to realise how much time I spend anticipating, rather than being in the moment. The most basic kind of anticipation, for me, is when I know I have to be somewhere at say ten o'clock, to meet someone or for an appointment, and that commitment becomes a big obligation in my head, one that I work to not mess up. "Messing up" means being late or forgetting whatever it is that I'm supposed to bring with me or remember. And so as a result I spend an undue amount of time making sure I have what I need, and then leaving way too early so as to be sure I'm not late.

How silly is that? And if I am going to wherever it is on foot, then there's an even larger chunk of time lost. But now, on the bicycle, I can leave at the relatively last minute and still make it to a meeting or whatever on time. No waiting for the streetcar, no half-hour walks...

The other day when I found myself leaving home late and still, after zipping along the busyness of College Street on my newly refurbished bicycle, five minutes early to meet a friend, I realised that I need and want to change my mental patterns and habits. I want to shed this sense of, yes, let's name it, this sense of urgency I have that makes me try to anticipate the future so "nothing goes wrong". It's ridiculous to be so bound up anticipating that the things I want or need to do right now don't get attended to. And I think it's pretty destructive too, in the long run.

I suppose it's some kind of control issue, do you think? And perhaps underlying it is an anxiety? Sounds about right.

As I was out for my run this morning (now there's something I don't have to think about ahead, just do!) I found myself trying to imagine how I would go about changing this pattern of over-anticipating. It seems to me that I need to look at what I am protecting myself against by doing all this obsessive anticipating. Is it the "dreadfulness" of being a few minutes late? of forgetting something and having to fix it later? So what? The world will not come to an end, after all, if I am late. So why am I acting as if it might?

The prescription, I think, and here I must apologise ahead of time to friends, is to deliberately try to stop caring about my own punctuality. I need to figure out how to let go of this thing. hmm

And if I aggravate some people by being late, well, it's not intentional, not directly. It's just part of my trying to learn how to live in the present more reliably. For as things are now, I feel I'm always struggling in the present to ensure that things go well later on in the day. But in all that anticipating the "now" gets lost. I've come to realise that this is why I often have extremely unproductive mornings (apart from my run and often some cleaning up). I can't seem to settle down to work because I'm thinking ahead to things I have committed to that are scheduled for later in the day.

Talk about fruitless.

This is an odd post. I'm not sure If I'll publish it or not. I'll just go back and have a reread, and then decide.

Before I do I should tell you that I did have a breakthrough today: I printed out new versions of all my Burma book chapters, and now have an updated hard copy of all my recipes to make notes on. It feels great. I can't work from the computer when I'm in the kitchen. It's just not the same as scribbling a note in pen on a piece of paper (usually the page the draft recipe is on).

Today I made the simple and magical sweet that is traditional in Burma at this Water Festival (next weekend) time of year. It's a rice dumpling, rice dough wrapped around palm sugar, then boiled until translucent and tender (they look like peeled lychees). When you bite in, the sugar inside is molten, smoky-tasting, and shockingly good. Aha!

I also made new supplies of pantry staples that I'll need for testing in the next couple of weeks, things like roasted rice powder, fluffy dried shrimp, roasted chopped peanuts, fried shallots, etc.

Armed with these I should be able to keep my momentum.

Once on-task and with a list of recipes to test, i hope I can avoid too much over-anticipating and keep my brain and ambition focussed on the immediate "things to do".

WIsh me luck!

And if you see me pedaling past quickly on my red Diamond Back, you'll know that I've managed to cut things fine, and now am hurrying to make up for not having anticipated!

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