The author, Joyce Maynard, says she feels most at home at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. It is there she engages in those activities that define what living is to her. And, more importantly, I am surmising she has also found a way of being.
What is living? Maynard has prompted me to, once again, think about this question. I’ve rolled this question around in my mind frequently over the past five years or so. It has rolled in and out of consciousness. But, this time around the idea of living has collided with me differently. Why? For the first time, I believe I am developing the ability to define what living is to me. Am I a late bloomer? Very likely.
The question deserves to be asked at different stages in life. Maybe during those times when we feel like we are not doing what we want to do with our lives. Or, a need is perceived to make a significant change regardless of how we feel about the way we are currently choosing to live. Or, maybe you feel a small tug to make just a little change in your world. Yet, you are not sure what that change should be.
I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for help when I make decisions throughout life. So, in any form this question is used, if we ask it of ourselves, intentions begin to cultivate and grow. Even if an audible answer does not arise (lucky you if one does!) after we whisper to ourselves, “what does living mean to me?” the mind will take note of whatever the felt experience is. Try not to need or expect an answer. If you do get one, it does not have to be or need to be verbal. In fact, I’ve found I do not get any audible answers or thoughts. I get a feeling. If the question brings up confusion, that is ok. Let it bring up confusion. It did for me for many years. And, I am sure it will again in years to come.
(This is not to say I do not have confusion and anxiety with some areas of my life. I do. But, I am saying that some aspects of my life have been smoothed out and have lost their rough edges where confusion and indecisiveness used to reside. I use myself as an example to, hopefully, create a rough guide for someone else who may want to gain a better understanding around their individual way of being.)
Asking the question, “what is living to me?” is similar to setting an intention at the beginning of a yoga class. It prompts an energy and begins to sketch a blueprint that establishes a framework. Yes, it is a blueprint that is in pencil because our lives are constantly in flux. But, nevertheless, it is your blueprint. This blueprint and framework will create a spaciousness allowing you to make changes, however large or small. Some past fears may fall away. It is your awareness that will take you there and shape your life’s path as time moves on just as Joyce Maynard did when she found Guatemala is where she feels most at home. It has become her way of being.
A vegan treat, Nava Atlas’ sloppy joes. Here I’ve posted her recipe verbatim. But, when I made them I took the technique and subbed ingredients. One addition I added that I’ll throw out there if you’d like to try, add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and baking cocoa powder. It really brings a depth of flavor to the dish that I enjoyed. Another thing I enjoyed was chili sauce rather than tomato sauce. Either way, these are fun to make and are a really good, substantial dinner. I dressed the bread with sharp dijon mustard, sweet pickle relish, and refreshing red leaf lettuce.
Nava Atlas’ Pinto Bean and Quinoa Sloppy Joes
Serves: 4 to 6
- 1/2 cup raw quinoa, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1/2 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
- 15- to 16-ounce can pinto or red beans,
drained, rinsed, and coarsely mashed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 medium tomato, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar or natural granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder, or more, to taste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus more for topping, optional
- Shredded lettuce, baby spinach leaves, or green sprouts
- 6 whole grain rolls, English muffins, or mini-pitas
Combine the quinoa with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the bell pepper and sauté until both are golden.
Add the remaining ingredients except the last two, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook over medium-low heat, loosely covered, for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the skillet stand off the heat for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle further and for the quinoa to absorb the tomatoey flavors.
For each serving, spoon some of the filling onto the bottoms of whole-grain rolls and cover with the tops. Or, you can serve these open-faced.