Friday, November 12, 2010

all you need is shrimp

This past year I have re-discovered a love of cooking - or perhaps I should say I've re-invented it. I have always sort of enjoyed cooking, and really loved it as a child. But the love I had for it back then probably had more to do with the fact that as a kid, everything is magic. There is something very adult, now, about the love I've learned for cooking: for the rhythms and organization of it; and the raw, sensuous pleasure of eating food shaped by my own hands from ingredients I chose and put in, one by one. It is healthier, slower, more labor-intensive and - best of all - tastier.

And yet, this past year it has often been missing some sacred element. Cooking is a pleasure in its own right, as is eating, but the consumption of food is not meant to be consummated alone. This year I have cooked and eaten many a meal alone at my table, and there is an empty echo to it. I am not entirely sure why, but when I cook for my son, this echo is still somewhat there.

Fortunately, I live fifty short steps from my parents; and although my mom insists on tipping the scales of shared meals in her favor, I still do get the occasional pleasure of a meal made and shared with love ones. I wonder, though, at the difference. Why would there be less pleasure in cooking for my son? Yes, feeding him is a more labor-intensive process and less relaxed, but there is no way I love him any less than I do my parents.

I wonder if, perhaps, the missing ingredient is gratitude. I can make him say "thank you" all I want, but that is never the same as an un-coerced, grateful heart - something he is too young to fully actualize. As I have mulled this over, I have begun to wonder if it points to a broader principle, which I will express as this: Gratitude is Love's fulfillment.

This makes sense to me, and gives me a handle to grab onto as I approach the often shapeless-seeming mass of all the things that make up Love. What does Love want? Why should/do I choose to love? I ask these questions, and the answer I recieve is, "for the hope of uncoerced gratitude, joyously and spontaneously expressed by the reciever of that love."

Does this make the act of love-giving any less wondrous, or profound? I don't think so. I think, rather, that it makes it more beautiful, and that this sort of understanding turns the lover from some grasping, selfish gremlin wanting a selfish love kick-back, to an entity who yearns for a unity of giving and recieving that grows and expands in reciprocity as it comes to life.

Sex, cooking - everything: all lived-out metaphors for this inflaming process of love-making. Let's make shrimp-kabobs. And eat them. Together.

dinner, last week, cooked slowly on a makeshift grill over a bed of coals in my newly-made fire-pit


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