Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Eat your damn chilies, child"

Fish drowned in heaven-facing chilies
(you can't see the fish, you can't taste your tongue by the time you get to it either)
The Spice Temple, Sydney, August 2014

Today, I found a photo I took over a year ago sitting in my drafts folder. So much has changed since then, but not the feeling that I should be less surprised by that thought.

On this day last year, I arrived in this country from my little wild corner at the end of the earth. Less than five months later, I left to go to rural Cambodia, without a concrete plan and just the faintest idea of who I was going to meet while I was there. My incentive? I was going to get my hands right into doing what I have wanted to since I was sixteen: fieldwork towards poverty alleviation. And I was going to get the hell out of this sanitised, bubble-wrapped suburgatory.

How things have turned around. I am right back here, by some mad chance, working in a place I am still trying to figure out whether I really believe in the virtues of.

I feel like at some point in the past couple years, I dove right into that bowl of sichuans pictured, because by the time I got to the bottom of it, I was unable to taste anything, my tongue numbed by the first touch of something seeking heaven.

In other words, sometimes things don't turn out as vividly or ideally as you pictured they could, or by the time you get to them, you have killed the tastebuds you would have needed to enjoy their full flavour. And that's okay! (The fish in question was mostly flavourless, and lay buried in an ocean of oil. Or maybe that's how I tasted it, who knows.)

Regardless, the extravagant spectacle of having an entire chef's garden of chilies brought to us and showcased and generally floo-flahed over by this expert waiter at one of Sydney's best restaurants, not to mention the novelty of the tongue-zinging chili itself, was probably worth it. You see, you have to know what you don't really care much for, just as much as you should know what is important.

It's part of growing up and all that.

So, as it's that time of year when you start to get reflective and thankful and all those goo-making things, I'll ask you something that I hope you can spare just a little bit of mindspace to think about.
What has surprised you (pleasantly or not) or underwhelmed you in this phase of your life? What did you learn about yourself through it? And what will you take with you going forward?
Feel free to write me if you care to share. You know how to reach me (email, phone call, Facetime/Skype/Hangouts, instant message, whatever, however). Regardless of what you learn, remember that you have grown (and are continuing to learn!) a little bit more in this time of your life, as you have in others. You are wiser, braver, and you know a little bit more than you did before. And you are loved.

That's something to be glad for.

Feliz Navidad, my friend! And much love from Obama-city.

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