Dear reader, I had intended this weekend to finally getting down to the business of answering my friend Artist's questions in this previous post.
I obviously did not get to do that.
What I did do was to finish re-reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It is a captivating read: there is so much richness to consider; a gem that one can turn about this way and that to see the what and the how of catching the light.
There are many more qualified persons to discuss Pirsig's metaphysics than I, so we won't be doing that here.
What I loved to think about this weekend's reading was Pirsig's evocation of the ancient Greeks, and how they perceived themselves in relation to time. He explained that in our modern western society, we view ourselves facing the future as we move forward in time and the past is shown our backs; yet, to the ancient Greeks, we faced the past: it was the future that was shown our backs.
What do you think about that, dear reader?
It's true, isn't it, how we have such a habit of reading the past, of seeing our stories as we replay them, tell them, perhaps even perpetuate them, and then, suddenly, as we keep walking backward, we bump into our future?
Isn't that just the good stuff?
On Saturday, BG and I drove to the Indian grocery. I bought the spices I'd need to make and replenish my garam masala. I chose to use dear Anita's recipe for Punjabi garam masala.
Making the masala was at the top of my priority list. I needed it in order to make the parathas stuffed with peas that I was so hungry for, and that are so handy to freeze and to pull out and warm up in the toaster on those evenings when the easiest supper is the only one that will satisfy.
The fragrance of Anita's masala was spellbinding: the freshly-ground fragrance of the masala seeming more akin to a low, bee-humming sound than a smell. In the air as well was the unmistakable scent of the ubiquitous local dish, pork and sauerkraut, cooking away in the crock on the kitchen counter for Snowy, BG, and LG. Whenever that particular dish cooks, always, it evokes family dinners of times past, when we were all children, when my elder brother was still alive, mixing it all into the mashed potatoes, when we were all there at my grandmother's table. Cauliflower does this as well, dear reader.
Sometimes it is easy for us to see the ways that we are different in my family, I am the only vegetarian-Buddhist-post-undergrad-Bollywood-loving-etc., etc. when it is ever so much as easy, it seems, to see the ways in how we fit within our life. As I rolled out and stuffed the parathas, BG eagerly awaiting the first from the griddle the smell of hot iron, of fermented cabbage and roasting meat, of Punjabi garam masala and toasty wheat, BG hitting replay over and over for the title track of the Aaja Nachle soundtrack, it all seemed to make sense, every last bit of it fitted, in place.
Feeling this fit, it was not so much an issue of whether we are oriented in a position to face the past or to face the future. No, rather, it was like floating above that positition, able to see in any direction; and when coming back down to earth, the past, the present, the future, why, yes: they do reach out and receive us with open arms.
That's the good stuff, dear reader.
The next time I make parathas, they will be filled with mashed potato and sauerkraut.
Wish you could be there.