Finding Calm In the Chaos
In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order (Carl Gustav Jung)
I woke up this morning with literally no idea what I was going to write about today. So I plodded along, struggling to find the words, writing stuff and deleting it almost immediately. It was frustrating, and confusing, as my mind wandered, unable to focus or connect.
None of it made any sense…
Then a friend posted an 1817 painting by Benjamin West called “Death on a Pale Horse” on Facebook. It was grizzly, tragic and crazy in that dark and ethereal way that paintings of that era often were. My first thought and comment was “that looks exactly like the chaos in my mind at the moment….”.
And then it came to me, the very thing that had been bothering me all week and all day today as I tried to sit down and write. So many things seem to be moving out of control these days, with each week bringing chaos in ways that we couldn’t even imagine the week before. Uncertainty has been layering upon uncertainty, running cracks into the foundation of our lives and weakening our base. So we struggle to make sense of it all, and find the rock upon which we can ground ourselves.
It’s the broken record of 2020, playing on repeat.
But that’s also why I write. To share these things, the minutiae that may not really make sense or matter that much, but that somehow manage (hopefully) to bring us together. It’s these little things, the basics of love, nature’s beauty and….well…food that bind us. Perhaps if we can share these, we can find something that connects and grounds us all.
Yeah…today I’m feeling it deep….
Chaos In the Air
It’s seems crazy what’s happening “out there” at the moment, don’t you think?
In the US wildfires are still roaring out West, COVID-19 is still a battleground (and has made it to the White House no less), facts are fluid and real news is hard to find. It’s unsettling & scary.
In France a freak storm hit the NW of the country this week, inundating coastal towns and causing loss of property and life. And of course COVID-19 cases continue to rise, while no-one can agree what to do about it. So new restrictions are starting to be implemented, especially in the larger cities and rumors of shut-downs are stating to swirl. But how far do we go? How do you sensibly draw the line between protecting your people, yet also allowing your economy to continue? In this never-ending pandemic year it’s a heated debate that is being argued the world over.
So we sit, and we wait, and we watch all this from our little enclave in the SW of France.
When I think about it, and dig through the details (I’ve got time on my hand ya know) I have to admit I think the answer is easy. Just wear masks, implement social distancing (in shops/restaurants/cinemas etc.) and make testing easily available to all. Then you can basically continue life more-or-less-normally until we have better treatments & knowledge in hand. It’s a simple method, and IMO the numbers prove that it works. In France we are still maintaining low death and ICU rates, despite a rapid rise in cases, and I think the policies that are already in place (e.g. mandatory mask wearing) are making that happen.
But what do I know?
The government wants more, and is now shutting down restaurants & bars in the bigger cities, with who-knows-what coming next. It makes the people restless and puts stress on already stressed-out businesses. In other words, chaos in the air. I can’t imagine it will end well.
So We Focus On the Small Stuff
Paul and I have been pizza making, or rather Neapolitan pizza geeking. It’s a small pleasure, that is fascinating yet unimportant. In other words, the perfect antidote to all the craziness in the world.
We started 2 months ago, experimenting with various flours and bases, rises and oven temps. Each week was a progression, moving from all-purpose flour to Italian flour (type 00 Caputo Flour is da bomb!!), increasing salt (a good salt base is key), moving from machine-kneading to hand-kneading, making our own tomato sauce, and finally maxing out our oven temp and deciding we may need even more (those Ooni pizza ovens are looking mighty tempting right now).
It’s become a Sunday tradition, and right now we are close, very close to our perfect pizza, which is a small victory in an otherwise out-of-control world.
Unimportant? Perhaps yes….But it’s fun and wonderfully therapeutic for our mental health.
Our next challenge is perfect pasta. We’ve already brought the hand-cranked pasta-machine and now just need to finesse the method. These are the small things that keep us sane.
Tip of the Week: If you want to watch some good, light, heart-warming videos, check out the YouTube channel called Pasta Grannies. It’s dedicated to Italian nonnas and their traditional cooking and (trust me on this), will warm you up with happiness from the inside out 🙂
And The Constancy of Change
The weather is keeping us on our toes, and stationary at home. We are cozy here, yet restless at the same time, enjoying the warmth and safety, yet yearning for change.
At the moment, nature seems to reflect that.
This week the crazy storm that pummeled the NW of the country passed through our area,. It was much decreased in strength, yet still wild enough to take us for a ride. So we had days of sideways rain and afternoons of crazy wind, interlaced with pockets of sun that lasted just long enough for us to relax and think “wow, this is nice” before yanking us back into stormy misery.
So we reveled in those moments of pause, clicking away with the camera to catch the way the mist curled into the morning light, or how colors shifted to gold in the afternoon. The breaks were small and brief, and in some ways the rarity of them was exactly what made them so special, their fleeting nature their very allure. I guess that’s the key to it all; capturing and enjoying these moments when you can. After all, in life change is the true constant, rather than the norm.
It’s a good lesson, if we can manage to learn it….
And That’s How We Find Our Ground
As chaos reigns outside, the only calm we can find is within.
It’s a simple concept, yet I can’t always say that I master it. There are moments when I feel the flow, where I manage to connect to the things that truly matter. And there are others where I lose it and wonder how I will make it through.
One of my constants, my “petits plaisirs” (small pleasures) is this blog, my photography, Polly, food, walks and nature. Simple things that ground me, that make sense when nothing else does. Perhaps by sharing these struggles, these things that many of us feel right now, I can help you find your ground too?
Small victories, small successes, small joys. Isn’t that what makes a life?
So that’s my gift and my challenge to you this week. Go find that little thing that brings you joy, that connects you and helps you find the calm. Perhaps if we all do this, we will all make it through the chaos this week, and the next, and the next after that. It’s a plan worth trying, don’t you agree?
It’s a deep week for me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. DO share your comments & musings below….SPONSORED LINK:
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