Maybe, like me, you’ve been wondering about direction lately. Maybe you’ve lost your focus or your inspired spark. Maybe you’re questioning the choices you’ve made to become a certain type of person, to cultivate a certain set of skills. Maybe you’re having a hard time connecting the dots between who you are now and who you were a year ago.
I recently took some time off from blogging to do a little figuring out on my own, apart from this white space where I felt pressure to do and be a certain thing a certain way. There’s so much noise all around, so many things happening a million miles a minute. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the tiny world we create for ourselves within our own head, and to go crazy from it.
But the questions and uncertainties are something to be thankful for. Just as the seasons change from one extreme to the next, just as a hyacinth up and blooms and then returns to the ground for another little lifetime, we are always shedding old skins for new.
I know some folks who are terrified of a blip in their routine. Perhaps, in their minds, change signifies death. The steady comfort of the same cup of coffee every morning, the same errands to run, the same social engagements on Saturdays may seem like a talisman. Keep practicing in kind and the pattern of living will out-smart the uncertainty of death.
I love habit, but I am also growing to love change. I think I enjoy it so much because I like to look back and see life in hindsight. The paths that seemed so twisty and difficult are revealed as a gentle curve, and I can see with clarity how one path led to another. Change in the past is what led me to my present, and change in the present is what will lead me to my future.
Just as I couldn’t imagine what the next year would bring last year, so too is the year that stretches ahead a mystery. We will move – maybe across the country, maybe to another continent – and with that will come all sorts of struggles. We will get new jobs, make new friends, travel to new spots and develop different hobbies. None of this is terrifying. But it can be unsettling.
In this in-between time, when I’m looking at the future but trying to stay firmly planted in the present, I’m relishing this unsettled feeling. I have the luxury right now to challenge what is normal for myself, to break down the expectations I made for my life and rebuild something more in line with my passions. Thus, a change in this space, a change in my voice, a change in my direction.
I spent the last month thinking about why I do the things I do and want the things I want — in many instances, it was the hypnotic pattern of routine that kept me going in a direction, not the driving force of my passions. And it was the cathartic confrontation of change that helped me to realize that.
It’s in the magic of change that we become more of who we are supposed to be. Or, as my friend says, it is often in the tight spaces where it hurts that we have more of an opportunity for growth.
There’s a chance that a change is just what we need.
1 bunch asparagus, washed + trimmed
1/4 c. almonds, chopped
small sprig of fresh thyme
zest of a lemon
coarse sea salt + black pepper
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar)
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Wash asparagus and trim off woody stems – hold one end of a stalk in each hand and gently bend until it naturally snaps. In a large saucepan, heat a half cup of salted water until boiling. Lay woody stems directly in water and arrange asparagus on top so that there is no contact with the water. Cover and steam until tender, about five minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop almonds and toast them in a pan over medium to low heat. Keep an eye on this, shaking the pan often to keep the nuts from scorching. When the kitchen starts to smell like browned butter, remove from heat and reserve.
Whisk together a simple vinaigrette: combine mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small jar and shake to combine.
Once asparagus is steamed to desired tenderness, throw away (or compost!) woody stems and roughly chop the asparagus. Toss with toasted almonds, lemon zest, thyme and the vinaigrette. Shave parmesan over the top and serve warm.