bake in a slow oven
I want to open this first (news)letter by thanking you for the time and trust in choosing to share this space with me for the next six weeks. I realise the energy it takes to step into the unknown, and I’m grateful for your collective willingness to share in this dialogue. I'm arriving at this inaugural sharing knowing that beginnings always prompt me to acknowledge the reality of time, and reminding myself of the presence of it keeps me learning and unlearning about commitment and choice on a daily basis.
I often catch myself fixated on the two white pillars at the front of the main space of the Women’s Library. I once overheard someone mention that between them is likely where the front desk was originally placed. The space that held knowledge. Now there’s a void that holds: air, space, sound (and occasionally plants and bodies) – that are not only invested in proximity but are also invested in time. Nothing and everything; some thing. All at once. They have a true timelessness to them. It recently dawned on me that I have similar pillars in my life that support my being in various ways. They, too, simultaneously hold everything and nothing. These symbolic pillars, be they conventionally living or non-living, also act as guideposts and landmarks that enable me to return to myself. They remind me of how structures continuously reveal new ways to teach us how to care.
There’s a box of cookery books that has occupied the majority of my energy since I began my research in the archives. One line from a handwritten shortbread recipe is bookmarked in my mind as a stern yet subtle reminder. The namesake title to this inaugural sharing, its final instruction reads: “bake in a slow oven”, which constantly prompts me to recognise the various perceptions of how to quantify time in ways other than durationally. I’m learning that there’s a difference between living alongside time and living for it. I often feel like I’m chasing the feelings it gives me – comfort, stability, consistency. Frankly, I don’t know if many actions can compare to the action of time as it gives way for so many other feelings to develop. I often fear that I require too much time, that I am unable to offer enough of it, or that none will be offered to me. The questioning of self-worth in relation to time is a constant personal struggle. Knowing that time often validates and establishes trust, I often wonder if new people, places and things that I encounter and forge relationships with are likely more significant to me than I may be to them. While I’m thankful for my anomalous lifestyle that enables me to prioritise my practice and passions, it inevitably requires more movement and displacement than I would like it to. The inner battle of who I am and what I do often evokes some of my deepest insecurities, as it prompts me to question choice and how it’s interwoven with time and my personal capacity and boundaries. The thought that no action(s) I could do could compare to time occupies my headspace more often than I’d like to admit.
With time, foreign inevitably shifts to familiar, but the threshold of when that shift occurs is unique to each relationship. I thought I’d learned this already, but sometimes I feel that I need to make a greater effort to relearn.
So here I am, choosing to carve out time and space for words that fall somewhere between public and private; carrying both the fear (freedom) of the former, yet the safety (comfort) of the latter. (I hope with time that we can build some sort of familiarity through these words.) The more I move around our planet, the more often I catch myself occupied with feelings of longing and homesickness intertwined with conflicting feelings of belonging and comfort as multiple people, places and things offer me strong sentiments of home. Sending letters and care packages adds lightness to an otherwise heavy reality of time and distance between my desires for immediate familiarity. It ingrains patience while offering closeness. I often look to Mother Nature when I seek immediate comfort and familiarity, and she’s a constant pillar in my life and wellbeing. So I’d like to close this first (news)letter with an invitation to offer closeness. This week, I invite you to think of someone who you seek closeness with, harvest a piece of your surrounding earth – gather stones or shells from the shore, pick some wild flowers, harvest herbs and produce from the garden, and offer it to them in the best way you see fit.
love & light,