There are all sorts of ‘new year’ experiences and feelings that come and go, some leaving impressions, some not even marked. Anniversaries with their days before and afterglows can be awful and terrifying and tender and lovely. Today is my birthday and this year it is marked with visits from two of my favorite people, one of whom braved a winter storm-not really-and a gathering tonight. It is, will be the most festive birthday I have had in a long time. It is the first time I have asked for festivities in a long time.
And yet, I waver.
I waver because Julia has a cold. Julia is so rarely sick and this cold, the kind that takes away you voice and leaves you just a bit punky but not lay down, do nothing sick, is perplexing to me. I am not quite sure what to do for her except feed her soup and urge her to hydrate. She woke up about an hour ago and went to the bathroom and I expected she would want to go downstairs to her star wars book or the wii. I suggested that she go back to bed and sleep and she did. Julia doesn’t feel well. Will a gathering tonight during which I will not be her constant companion be good for this cold?
I waver because I had a disappointed day baking macarons yesterday. I baked them for the first time about 10 days ago and they came out stunningly successful. I decided to work on them, re-borrowed the standing mixer and made threes batches in different colors planning to make three wonderful fillings and bring them to the gathering tonight. I set the oven temperature to high on the beginning of the first batch and when I got that corrected, there was very little rise, not glorious feet on the next cookie sheet. The second batch had no feet at all and the rising went to the center of the disk. I have dozens of tiny erupting volcanos! I doubled down efforts on a third batch that came out no better. The fillings are made and the cookies should be sandwiched this morning for consumption tonight. I was so enamored of the success of last week’s experience. It was terribly hard to shake myself from the disappointment of semi-failure last night and the feeling lingers this morning.
How awful is it to admit, on a birthday no less, when Cheshire and Linde traveled to be with me and planed a celebration, when many friends will gather tonight to celebrate, that I have a case of melancholies because my macarons are not perfect? Last night, when I went to bed, I hoped a good sleep would extinguish the feeling. If there was a pill, I’d take it this morning and just avoid any process of figuring these feelings out. If I could only be the part of me who is tickled to have what I have and not miss so much what I don’t, I would be that person.
The duality of having so much: daughters and friends and a very loving community, and still, feeling the deep loneliness that brings soul-gutting sadness. Even today when the scale should tip to happy. At least in my rational mind. And it doesn’t. And what brings tears this morning? What tipped the scale was nothing more than failed macarons.
Almost embarrassed to admit it. Although what it points out to me in this instant is the delicate balance we hold inside of us. How dualities are played out everyday. How in the face of great banquets, we can still starve. How in a room of peace, a single conflict can color, should I say ‘overtake’, a gathering. How do I navigate? Should the aim be some sort of rock solid balance that cannot be swayed or tipped by failed macarons? I don’t think so.
I think so. I write, sure of nothing, that I do not wish to erase those things that tip the scale in the way less preferred, but to live everything that is piled on the plates of the scales, the ecstasies and the pleasantnesses, the disappointments and heartbreaks. To live all of what is served up fully and navigate the results, the tippings into joy and sorrow when they arise. To live it all and cry and laugh and embrace the confusion and chaos and ambiguities as best as I am able.
Funny, I’ve written into my favorite quote. The one I’ve pondered and questioned and always enjoy the taste of in my mouth when I read it in my workshops. And of course, it is a perfect birthday wish for me, for almost anyone really.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~Rainer Marie Rilke
Oh, and the picture is NOT this week’s macarons.