This post will be short, sweet, and authentically grateful. I spent the day preparing and cooking healthy natural food, much of which was harvested from a friend's garden that I had the pleasure of helping to build and plant. Even my most deep-seeded neuroses have trouble finding a way to feel anything but energized and nourished after making delicious, healthy, natural, and healing foods picked directly from the ground. Few endeavors can quiet my relentlessly creative internal critic, but this one comes awfully close. I did, however, recognize that today marked a life "first" that seemed truly absurd...
Throughout my twenties, my main source of income came from working in restaurants. I sometimes look back on these years through a softened, hazy filter, considering them cherished days of doing work I found noble, fulfilling, and interesting. As someone who now makes a living that too often involves sitting in front of a computer, I sometimes wonder how much I idealized my restaurant work because I truly loved it or because I simply associated it with the temporal charm of youth and fewer responsibilities. After spending the day preparing home grown food, I can safely say it is at least both if not primarily the former. But before further professing a love for food and cooking, let me veer back towards the "first" I was surprised to realize I experienced today.
One of my earliest jobs played a significant role in shaping a worldview I still hold today. It was a dishwashing gig at a vegetarian restaurant that I eventually came to manage after a few years. Most of the foods we prepared were purchased from our local farmers market, and I came to love starting my day at 5 AM buying local vegetables for the day's menu (this despite being a somewhat nocturnal twenty-something at the time.) After that rewarding early gig, I also had the further good fortune of working for other restaurants with a mindset towards the local and natural. Despite years of working with these progressive, somewhat hippie-trippy restauranteurs (back in the 90s, no less), I came to realize I have never put a meal together from food I harvested with my own hands from the ground. Sure, I've thrown some home-grown tomatoes and herbs into many dishes cooked at home, but never was the primary source of any meal I prepared procured from food I personally harvested from the earth. This realization seems a little bit crazy to me, if not downright absurd. How is it that something so fundamentally essential to life and human survival has evaded my personal experience for four decades of life?
I am continually astounded that so many primal aspects of my simply staying alive are more dependent on my ability to swipe a debit card than use any innate, "earthly" skills and/or personal resources. Today, however, I felt a reconnection to a greater source, with a more vibrant complexity than that of our sterile, technology-saturated world. I felt like I was harvesting the essential, both literally and metaphorically. That reconnection to the taproot of human history and survival is like coming home having never taken the time to realize how deeply homesick we can allow our modern world to make us feel.