I have just started on two books. One is a "book" book, one with actual paper pages made from trees, the other is an Audio based book. Audible is a rather new thing for me. I first discovered Audible when I bought the book "World War Z" which came with a CD, which I was then able to upload into my computer and then onto my iPhone as a file in my iTunes.
At the time, can't quite remember how long ago it was, but I am sure it was when I was traveling in Japan, because my memories involve sitting in a bathtub that was way too small while listening to someone narrate, and me laughing hard while listening.
World War Z is an easy one to listen to on Audible because its AWESOME in its uniqueness. Its not narrated by one guy, the way that Harry Potter is, or some other such. And even better, its not narrated by a computer, which I can assure you, I have come across that in my sheer misfortune of buying an Audio book called "Grain Brain"!
World War Z is almost like those old school radio plays. Before Movies and TV became a thing. Its even got Alan Alda doing one of the voices! So you get quite sucked into the actual listening experience, your mind makes clear and precise pictures in your head, you can visualize something with ease because you are actually engaged.
The same cannot be said for EVERY audio book out there.
Like for instance, I have listened to "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k" and I have to admit, I have yet to get past the midway point.
Not because I give too many "F**ks" but because it isn't quite that riveting in its content. Yes, its well read, yes, it can be funny, but at times, it just makes me want to fall asleep. Audio books, in some way, are only as good as the person reading you is capable of holding your attention. Its like the worlds longest lecture if you are someone who devours books.
If I read a proper paper book, I need to be on holiday, because then I can read from start to finish without giving too many "f**ks" about what time I need to sleep (I always sleep early when on holiday, its like this thing I do!) or what you need to do the next day.
Ah well, I am not on holiday, all I managed was to make it through Sunday. We closed the shop early on Saturday when we learned that the unapproved protest that had started in Causeway Bay was moving swiftly to Central. Videos and whatsapps showed us people flaunting the face mask ban, clad in black and legging it through the main streets of Wan Chai. Yeah, not going to stay open in the hopes that one person rocks up to eat while at the same time putting the team at risk of having to spend the night on my couch or in a capsule hotel like last time.
Reality is, I put a tiny note on the doorway to clarify why we were closing at 5pm on a Saturday vs 7:40pm. And I then posted the amendment of closing time to Google (which is supposed to be the bastion of all that is legit) and then I also posted to Instagram (being as we aren't on Facebook) and finally here on our website.
Now...you tell me this, is it my responsibility to find everywhere else on the internet that people have decided to post about our existence and our operating hours? Like openrice, happy cow, and lord knows what other place we exists at that we have no clue about?
I think that would sound like finding a needle in a haystack and its a lot for ONE person to manage at the same time as managing closing tasks, planning frantically for the week ahead and doing something that, anyway, is out of the ordinary for all of us as a team.
So you can imagine my surprise to find, on Sunday evening, a scribble at the corner of my note on the doorway saying, "Traveled an hour to get here, Peace".
Now, if I hadn't just spent the whole Sunday switching between two very incredible books vs just sitting around on Netflix, I may have really gotten upset for no reason.
My first feeling was guilt, then anger for feeling guilt, then anxiety for where on the internet this person would go to vent their frustration because they obviously wouldn't know if I made a reply under their scribble. And the scribble, would we say its passive-aggressive? Like...Arrrrggghhhh, I just traveled all this way to find you closed!!! Followed by "Peace" almost like a deflated....Aaaaiiiii.....sigh.
I dunno, how do you read something like that?
Well, good thing for me the two books I am stuck in to, in tandem, literally switching between the Audio book and the Book book...helped me not freak out and descend into anxiety.
One of them is a book recommended by Sam Harris, and this one is the Audio one, because, something told me I would find the content quite dry to keep going if I attempted to read it, what with my ADD and my workload.
The first book is called: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (William B. Irvine) and I can assure you, its been enlightening as hell.
The second book I am reading, the actual paperback book, is called: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins, et al.).
Both books work great in conjunction, reading one when it reminds me of the other and listening to one when the other has gotten way to expansive for my human sized brain.
Upon reading the note that ended with "Peace" I actually took it to heart.
Anger serves no purpose. Fear, rides in the back seat with me every day. Anxiety is what wakes me daily. Matter of fact, I woke up so anxious this morning I thought I was going to die. I had to sit down to meditate, my third actual attempt at meditation unguided by Sam Harris' soothing voice dripping in through my headphones and into my human brain! And guess what:? After meditation on stoicism, meditating about saying goodbye to every single team mate, every person who comes into the shop, losing everything from my shop to my health, resulting in my imminent death...I was then about to gain some perspective on how none of it matters.
You know how in the past I have said, "Whats the point?"
The point is, we are all fragile, and we are only as strong as our minds are fortified, and we are only as confident as we let ourselves to be.
I have struggled for all my life, to distinguish the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem, and now, as I approach my 43rd birthday, here I stand, knowing that my self-esteem is only just beginning to see the light of day. People may see me as confident, or not...but I have been fairly assured that I appear self-confident at times and self-depreciating most of the time...but self-esteem has been something that I have sorely been lacking.
And it wasn't until a recent effort at meditation when I focused on "Metta" or Loving Kindness...not towards others, but towards myself, that I broke down in tears mid meditation.
There I was, sitting cross legged on my sofa, my cats meowing loudly to get my attention, and I began to realize how little I actually love myself and how little faith I have in myself. Most of my external expression of who I am is about showing I got this, but a lot of the time, I am eaten alive by anxiety about the things I have little control over.
I have little control over what people think of me, I have little control over what someone may say about me, and I have little control over what the future of Hong Kong will bring for me or the shop financially.
What I realize now, something I knew but didn't actually meditate on, is that the one thing I do have control over is my integrity, my virtue, my skills and my labor.
Like...as in, the food I create, all I can do is keep doing my best.
It literally is the only thing I can control.
I can control how much we spend, I already do that.
And just...do my best.
So I am at peace, much like the note suggested. Because I do my best, to make decisions that are rooted in integrity. I do my best to take care of the human beings in my life who I genuinely love and respect, my team, my family, and I am starting to realize, this includes myself.
I do my best to keep innovating and creating food that makes people feel joy.
The rest, I have no control over. And Stoicism is what has made me realize this more than logic, and meditation is what brought me to that awareness of one branch of Philosophy.
When I studied Philosophy, I remember my Jesuit professor telling us "Philosophy is about the love of knowledge, Philo...Sophia...and even this fine University you all are attending, is named Sophia..."
*Etymological meaning of Philosophy. ... Philosophia means 'love of knowledge', 'pursuit of wisdom', 'systematic investigation. English word 'Philosophy' comes from a combination of two Greek word, which are 'Philo' and 'Sophia'.
Hmmm...I went back to university in my 30's and I have not stopped in my pursuit of wisdom ever since...and let me be the first to admit that I am slowly forgetting something as simple as why I walked into another room, but it eventually comes back to me, like, "Oh, yeah, carrots!" and I worry unnecessarily about what will happen to my mind the older I get, because, lets face it, I am halfway towards a foot in the coffin, maybe more than half way, who knows.
But for now, I will recommend both these books so you too, if you are like me, can find some people, some self-acceptance for all your beautiful imperfections, and some self-love for all the integrity and virtue you carry in bucketfuls.
Much like I am telling myself now, you got this. Don't give up, meditate daily on losing everything you love, so you can find the love you do have around you.
We aren't closing the shop, but I meditate on it now, what it would feel like to lose my business, and I am grateful as all hell for having this business. I meditate on losing Peter, Swati, Clara, Jake, Anh, and even my family, my kids...my husband...and then I am immensely grateful for their part in my life and in my worklife.
Finally, I meditate about losing my life...to something like a quiet heart attack or a slow and painful cancer, and I become immensely grateful for every single day I have with my children, my husband, my customers, my team....just...being alive, in this world with made up constructs, money, corporations, nations, all make belief...
Ok, Now, I need to head to work, its 7:20am, I have been writing for an hour...and its Monday!
Here's wishing each and every one of you an incredible week ahead, much love, peace and happiness...and mostly, gratitude for the ones you love and who love you back.
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.