Not perfect, but whole

I'm not even going to delve into the matter of today being May 1 and I'm in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. That seems as wrong as the fact that there are only five weeks of school left. 

It really does take my breath away that summer break is nigh. Didn't my baby just start kindergarten? And soon my big boy will enter 4th grade and approach a double-digit age?

I chose not to think of those things this week, although they flitted through my attention when my eyes wandered to my calendar and reminders for camp payments rolled in. Instead I focused on being present with myself and those around me; my boys and friends, classmates and pets. 

Recently, I spoke to a very neat woman, wise and kind. She radiated serenity, a quality in others I am always drawn to like a moth to the brightest light. I want to know that secret, I want to understand the peace in this woman's face. So I talked to her for as long as she let me.

She told me about the importance of knowing ourselves deeply. That knowledge, and the acceptance of it, pads our hearts and souls. It nourishes us and is also protective, especially in our relationships with others both known and not. 

"When we know ourselves, Emily, we cannot be manipulated, for we are already whole. We don't have to spend energy defending ourselves against unknowns [unknown attacks], because we are already aware of our attributes."

Our conversation reminded me of an Adult Development class I took in grad school. Drawing on psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg's six stages of moral development, our professor, Robert Kegan, argued that the highest stage of adult development was at the point an individual could see him/herself as the subject and any given other as the object. Intimacy and deep connection are infinitely possible, but the Self is not enmeshed with the Other.

Put differently, the Self's identity is not dependent on the relationship with the Other. Rather the Self as an independent entity can approach and relate to and with another without worry that the Self will be lost or subsumed. 

The point is this: it is wise to make all effort to truly understand the essence of who we are. Then, faults can be addressed and worked on, strengths can be honed, real acceptance can be found. In the process, an authentic sense of self emerges and can be carried into relationships.

I think it's those sorts of selves that I find so appealing. People who recognize what is awesome about themselves and what is less optimal and who embrace it all in an accepting hug. They work to be just who they are but in a responsible way, fine-tuning internally as they go.

They are not perfect, but they're whole. And outwards from that core radiates pure light.

This week, I wrote a lot. I spent hours on the couch. I felt utterly alive and yet lazy too, as if this life of fitting words this way and that were but a puzzle of leisure I've not earned. And yet, something is different, and I wonder if it's growth. The very sort that might just radiate light.

Yum

People, fresh fava beans are a pain in the arse, but they are so worth the effort. 

You must first peel away their thick, puffer-jacket, fleece-lined shells to access the beans within. Then, you must blanch those and finally, slip the inner bean from the outer skin. That last step is particularly irritating because by that point in the game you're like, "Bean, come on. I want to eat you! And not even with a nice Chianti!"

Persevere! Because when you finish, you are left with a bowl of spectacular green, just waiting to be incorporated into something wonderful.

prepared fava beans

prepared fava beans

I myself most often make my fava-and-mint puree because slathering it across slices of hot, olive oily bread leaves me deeply happy.

mint

mint

I did just that earlier this week and each day since. Today too, and I felt happy every time. It's awfully difficult to feel blue when faced with this color green. You know?

Guess what else this time of year offers? Watermelon AND real arugula. Real arugula, as opposed to clamshell arugula, is not just a lettuce. No. Real arugula has a fiery kick of which I never tire. Oliver loves it too, though it always leaves him fanning his tongue. I will never tire of getting him "somefing to dwink" for relief. It's adorable and I groove on his liking spicy lettuce.

With said arugula and watermelon (and also that mint!), you can make one of the best salads in the world. Starting now, I intend to eat at least one serving of this every day, not least because Ol and I discovered a remarkable feta cheese at the farmers market last weekend.

Promise me you'll get some good olive oil and some aged balsamic vinegar (or make your own by reducing some balsamic with a bit of sugar). Put two handfuls of real arugula on a plate and top it with chunks of watermelon. Crumble feta all over and drizzle with oil and the old vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Go!