Saturday, August 6, 2011

waxing poetic on food, movement, creativity, the brain

Bag blogger. Bad, bad, bad. Now get over it.

Very much loving Spark: The Revolutionary New Science on Exercise and the Brain. The research and findings John Ratey cites confirm oh-so-many ideas I've had brewing in my own mind for years. Exercise equals healthier everything. As much as I like what the weightlifting has done for my body, I'm always much more interested in my brain. I fucking love my brain. And apparently I'm improving my neuroplasticity and cognitive ability. This may be my favorite brain book after Jeff Warren's The Head Trip.

I recently had a conversation with Cecil about exercise and earning caloric intake. Both of us are fascinated by the research that points to why current levels of obesity and diabetes are staggering. In our evolutionary history, humans had to earn their caloric intake, in other words, you had to work for you food. You wanted a steak? You killed a cow. You wanted some tortillas? You grew, cultivated and harvested maiz, ground it into masa then you could make your tortillas. No one works for their calories anymore. I remember a good Michael Pollan essay, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, from a few years ago in the NYT Magazine, on how food has become a spectator sport. People love watching cooking shows but don't really like cooking.

I love cooking. I love chopping, marinating, seasoning. The almost-alchemical reactions of oils, fat, proteins and spices interacting with whatever base I'm adding them to. I grew up in the kitchen, with my mother, aunts and grandmothers. My emotional connection to cooking is one that goes to the core of me. Cooking equals love, comfort, story-telling. The kitchen is where I learned who I was, the history of my family, lessons in womanhood and in nurturing. Cooking is the umbilicus that threads its way back God knows how many generations of women. And I write better after I cook. After spending hours in the kitchen, usually alone, I can come to my office and create, maybe because I've already been creating.

Funnily enough, eating isn't a big deal for me. (Anyone who has seen me knows I'm pretty skinny, except in the frontal area, some friends refer to me at "t*ts on a stick.) I eat very little but I like eating. I'll eat almost anything but I have very odd little habits. For instance, if I have several different things on a plate, I have to eat them one at a time. All the beans, then the meat, then the rice, then the veggies. Weird. I own it.

Creatively I'm been in lull. But I've been focusing on my business and I've been busy pouring my energy into building a solid base of designers and contractors. I'm happy that work is busy but I look forward to delving back into the novel. I also keep sending my poetry manuscript out. Socially I've been quiet, staying home a lot. I'm at the point (and I know it can sound snooty as fuck but whatever,) that if someone isn't extraordinary or enriches my life intellectually or spiritually, I'm not really interested in spending my time with them. I'm trying to keep myself surrounded by people who enhance my life, not detract from it. Why should I go out with someone and hear about new shoes or drama when I can stay home with the phenomenal company of Dura, Fuentes, Cernuda and Rilke? I love my solitude. I do, do.

I'll leave you with this poem by Jane Hirshfield.

Knowing Nothing

Love is not the reason.
Love is the lure,
the thin goat staked out in the clearing.

The lion has stalked
the village for a long time.
It does not want the goat,
who stands thin and bleating,
tied to its bit of wood.

The goat is not the reason.
The reason is the lion,
whose one desire is to enter—
Not the goat, which is
only the lure, only excuse,
but the one burning life
it has hunted for a long time
disguised as hunger. Disguised as love.
Which is not the reason.

Or would you think
that the bones of a lion reason?
Would you think that the tongue?
The lion does not want the goat,
it wants only to live. Alone if it must.
In pain if it must. Knowing nothing.
Like the goat, it wants only to live.
Like love. Or would you think that the heart?


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