Saturday, March 7, 2015
Chop. chop. chop. chop.
Chopping fruits and vegetables is one of my favorite pastimes. I used to do it every weekend to make salads and such for the week. Now I do it to make baby food as well. That is not a competitive mommy statement; there are plenty of things I don't do for my child that other parents seem to be able to achieve. No, as nice as it sounds to say that I make her baby food out of my love for her, the truth is I just like chopping vegetables.
Years ago, I practiced yoga. I liked sweating and trembling and feeling all of my muscles working at once, but with each contortion, I knew the end of the class drew near. The end, meaning the quiet meditative time when you lie still and feel your breath. I hated that part. I said the alphabet and counted and sang songs in my head (and fell asleep a couple of times), but I certainly didn't meditate. Clearing my head without distracting my body has proven impossible. But a clear head and a calm heart don't have to come from sitting cross-legged.
I find inner peace and complete clarity in two endeavors: running and chopping. Running has been a part of my life for a long time, though it's been difficult post-baby. Sliding my shoes on, lacing them up, I can feel the muscles in my shoulders, where I keep all my stress, unclench and begin to relax. I don't have to distract myself with a mileage watch or an ipod (though I own both of those). Running has its own music if you listen.
My other source of pure contentment is chopping fruits and vegetables. I don't mean cooking, though I enjoy that. Cooking requires thought and creativity and being on your toes. Chopping is simple and repetitive, like running, and it requires consistency and practice. The ritual of sharpening the knife and washing the vegetables. The comfort in performing the same movement over and over until piles of perfectly diced cubes grow across the counter. The rainbow.
All of this probably sounds a bit loony, and when I lose my mind I'll likely be found chopping mountains of vegetables. But I think a lot of people find satisfaction in ritual and repetition. The meditative state can be found anywhere, even in the simplest activities. How do you meditate?