Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won't let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can't be done.
Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.
You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.
- Mark Nepo
This here poem, its made its way into my consciousness much the way that Sam Harris drops big words on the daily. Yesterday I learned a new word, "Liminal". Its hardly a big word, but its new, slightly alien to me.
Like...hey, I use the word "Subliminal" all the time, but who on earth has ever thought to say, "Liminal"???
When I was young, many moons ago, I used to cherish those moments when I learned a new word. I am not talking about being 5 or 6, I am talking about being an adult, confident that my grasp of the English language was pretty damn good for a half-breed growing up in a former British Colony...I scored high on my SAT's...for English...my Math was just about scraping by in the "very average" range.
Who cares though, right? Its been proven that language ability is a greater indicator of success than Math ability...so I am sticking with that little bit of nonsense for now.
Anyway, where have we been and where are we going?
You ever wonder that about your own life?
I do, a lot. I think after I hit 40, its like I wonder about that almost daily. Some days I am ahead of the game and some days I just don't want to play.
The thing that keeps coming back to me is this here one question, and I joke with my husband that one day I need to write a book by that very title:
Whats the point?
Or more like, "Whats the point!"
No really, what the hell is the point of it all? Of life, of making any effort to learn, of being someone bigger than yourself, of doing more to make the world somehow more habitable...
Whats the point...
And that is why this poem I share is so poignant.
I can't take credit for finding it, Elizabeth Gilbert can take that credit, and the Calm app can take credit for sharing it with me...
Every time I feel dejected and out of my element, I return to that one 30 min masterclass on the Calm app, and I remind myself, sometimes with tears welling in my eyes, that there is a point.
There is a point to trudging through one more day, even if today felt thankless.
There is a point in showing up, being present, even when no one else shows up to stand with you.
There is a point in choosing to create, even if no one will see your creation.
There is a point to caring, communicating, being...because if you chose to do nothing at all, there would be nothing you can contribute, you will stagnate, there will be no point.
Creative types, pshhh.
That, I guess, is how I understand one would describe me. I never thought that of myself. I always thought of myself in the ways others define me, from my mother when I was young, calling me, "Wasted potential" or my teacher in boarding school calling me, "Instigator"...we all, as we come into our own, do everything we can to prove those folks wrong, and hopefully, while doing so, we don't lose ourselves along the way.
I know now, I love to create. Creating something new, coming up with new ideas, making reality of ideas or dreams, that is where I find my purpose and fulfillment. I am constantly evolving, making a decision, changing my mind, looking at a problem from every angle and still finding the angle I like best. That is me.
Its been tough, let me not kid, these last few months have not been easy. We can't pretend that the protests haven't hit us like most of our compatriots in FnB. We were hoping it was because of the summer, there is always a downturn in the summer as people flee the insane heat here and holiday abroad. Kids are out of school so parental date nights and such are less...who knows, I wouldn't know what to compare it to because I've never actually done this before, Its gonna be a few years yet before I say, "This isn't my first Rodeo!"
We have been waiting for September to roll around, to see if the trend has to do with the protests or if they have to do with the norm of summer being quieter months...and well, hard to say at this stage. Hard to figure out how to juggle the numbers while still being in a space where we can continue to innovate and to create.
The most important part for me at this stage, I guess, is to ensure that the food quality remains good, the team remains happy, and I don't run myself into the ground by trying to do more, be more, and generally lose myself in doing and being.
I would never have thought I would do what I am doing...or for that matter, consider doing more...and yet, here I am, chomping at the bit, wanting more, and knowing I have to be patient as we weather the current economic conditions.
Hong Kong was teetering on the brink of a recession before the protests kicked off, some 15 weeks ago already, but now, we are in a recession, and its not looking great for most businesses, 40% down in most FnB businesses and many hotels have been running on 25% occupancy when they need at least 75% to be in the comfort zone.
We are lucky our business isn't supported by tourism, we are still very much supported by the community we cater to, so for that I am grateful. I guess I am also grateful for the fact I have nothing to compare my experience to, one day, years from now, I can look back on this and understand it much the same way I know how to read a map. For now, we wait.
As long as we keep doing what we have been doing, we will survive. We just need to be more conscious of how we operate, our food costing, avoiding items that are wasteful, maybe we will even have to trim our menu down a bit to a manageable number of dishes, I think as much as we love choice, its clear we have too many choices.
Its not easy to predict how things will turn out, Sometimes I lie awake at night and think about every bit of prep that needs to be done for the next day, and the next, and I think, "whats the point?"
Why do I do what I do?
And you know what comes to mind? Apart from this poem...the movie "Chocolat"!
Ever watched it? Its an old movie, well, old as I can call something old...and its about a woman who makes chocolate in this tiny french town and the chocolate she makes brings up all these suppressed emotions in the people who buy and eat her chocolate.
I am not saying I am the chocolatier lady, all I am saying is that I remember loving that movie, the idea of food and its connection to our emotions, food as love, food as happiness, food as nourishing and innately good, food as a feeling...its what impacted me the most when I watched that movie.
You know what it feels like when you eat something not great for you, you feel terrible afterwards.
And I am not saying food is something we do to feed our emotions, like, when people eat to fill an emotional void, almost like they are eating their emotions...
Food, good food, tasty food, clean food, for me, is about happiness, love, kindness, care, joy, patience, integrity, honesty and sharing.
Hmm, is that a run on sentence? I don't care, because, in the end, does it matter?
We break bread together, we communicate over a meal, we share...or we can even quietly look within, eat alone, and still enjoy a good meal and appreciate the effort that went into it. If there is any reason I do what I do, its because it makes me happy to share the kind of food that I would like to eat myself. Not everything we serve is a dish I would eat daily, not myself anyway, but everything we serve is a dish I am happy to eat. Hell, I barely eat, I have to remind myself to eat most days because we get busy and I lose my appetite after being around food all days long.
You know on my Sundays, our one day off, I eat out every single meal. I eat out because I don't feel like cooking or cleaning. If I cook, I cook for the kids, that is about it. I would be happy to just eat noodles all day if that were up to me, Sundays are a lazy day for me.
Have I gotten any better at taking care of myself? I can't say that I have. I keep meaning to, and then somewhere sandwiched between my "Whats the point" moments and my "I love what I do" moments is this thought about how there simply aren't enough hours in one day.
I need sleep, more than anything, I need a good nights sleep...and right now, I am sure I will finally get decent sleep in a few years time. I have eye masks from some fancy sleep focused website, Manta Sleep, their logo is a Manta...not sure what that sea creature has to do with sleep, but hey...super soft ear plugs to block out the noise...a weighted blanket that makes you feel like you are being hugged all night long...the whole lot. More pillows than you could ever dream of...and still my smartwatch clocks my sleep at an average of 5.5 hours a day.
I used to pride myself on getting 10 hours of sleep a day...and here I am, struggling to get to bed by 11pm only to wake the next morning before 6am. And so I do everything else I can to feel rested, short naps mid afternoon. Meditation in the morning. Avoiding caffeine after 12pm...and who knows what else, I am sure if I stopped making excuses for why I can't make it to the gym, I might actually be forced to organize my schedule in such a way as to make it all work. The one day I could be doing all that, ensuring I can get myself organized for making time for myself, is Sunday...and sadly, all I want to do is nothing on Sunday!
So maybe today I will do everything I can to ensure I get myself organized and actually make time for myself, make time for the gym, make time for my kids, make time for my spouse and make time for the future that I want to be living into.
I will sit down at the tiny table in our small apartment and I will hand draw the new menu so I don't have to make a mess of a crappy word document because I don't have any graphic design software or knowledge!
Yeah, maybe that is what I am going to have to do this evening :)
More hours, I need more hours in my day, and a side of fries with dip-dip!
My name's Lisa. I love to cook, I love to laugh, I love to write. I don't always believe I have the time for creating, and now I am going to work on simply going with the flow, with the food, the restaurant, the writing...and if I can, for one moment, spread a little joy along the way, well, its worth the effort.