On Cooking and Writing

Who else has been cooking up a storm in quarantine?

I’m not normally much of a cook; I can make the basics, birthed out of necessity as the eldest child of a single mom, but I’ve rarely attempted anything further. Both in elementary school and away in university, cooking was a means to an end, and an inconvenient one at that. In high school, as my dysphoria and body image issues grew, “cooking” was an attempt at some sort of control, and my failure to enforce that control only increased my aversion to it. While I’ve learned a little more about self-love and self-acceptance since then- and thankfully no longer fall to the depressive lows of my university years, where I would often forget to eat for days at a time- the idea of food simply as fuel for the machine that is my body has persisted.

A large part of a shift away from this thinking has certainly stemmed from having the more time- no longer squeezing cooking in an hour before I need to leave for work or trying to wake up enough to cook at 9:00 p.m. after being on my feet all day- as at the same time COVID-19 has altered my perspective of my body not as a machine to optimize but instead as a fleshy, fragile form that deserves my love and attention.

So I’ve been putting on some music- Fiona Apple being a current cooking favourite for me- and getting in the kitchen. Instead of obsessing over getting end results perfect, I’ve been enjoying the process of brainstorming ideas, of buying meaningful ingredients (I’m lucky enough to have a local organic grocer just a few blocks away), of moving my body in time with the sizzling pans and boiling pots so that it feels like food choreography. I’ve even enjoyed making mistakes; simply being present in the process, even if the end result isn’t fantastic- and frankly, it often isn’t!

I’m transferring the concept over to writing, as well. Instead of writing with the hope of being published, of creating something impeccable, I’ve simply focused on the act of creation. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t need to be Instagrammable, it doesn’t need to get likes, it doesn’t even need to be viewed by anyone other than me. Removing the pressure of production allows me to luxuriate in the limbo of creation, of creating, current tense.

There’s no rush right now- we’ve got plenty of time.

Are you cooking these days? Writing? I’ve ordered some paints and may try painting for the first time since I was a child, just because I enjoy it. How are you creating?

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