One of my favorite quotes from Bertrand Russell’s book, The Conquest of Happiness: “The man who acquires easily things for which he feels only a very moderate desire concludes that the attainment of desire does not bring happiness…since the man who has all he wants is still unhappy. He forgets that to be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”
I distinctly remember the first bite of chocolate I had after living in the village for three months. Chocolate never tasted so good. I closed my eyes and held the candy in my mouth so that I could memorize its exact taste and texture, so that I could remember the moment forever. Chocolate is special again. It’s a treat that doesn’t come very often.
If you allow it, simplicity offers an entirely new view of the world. Oftentimes, our lives are dominated by things, obtrusions, obstacles that block the view of those glittering eyes and hungry senses. Food, a necessity for our survival, a part of our daily routine, has lost its richness. We run through the drive-thru, we eat on our way to somewhere else, we eat while surfing the internet. Somewhere along the way, we have lost the pleasure of food — the time to sit and enjoy.
Only here, have I gained an appreciation for the assortment of flavors I consume. I enjoy making my favorite foods from scratch, watching tomatoes and green beans grow during the rainy season, and savoring the strawberries during the couple months they are available. For the first time, I am consciously thinking about the food I put into my mouth because I see the beginning, middle and end.
Growing your own food or at the very least, preparing your own food, is satisfying, it’s fulfilling — mashing chickpeas for hummus, rolling out the dough for tortillas, cooking fresh carrots and potatoes for vegetable stock, making pancakes on a Sunday morning from scratch.
Because I don’t eat many of my favorite foods here, they are special to me. They take time, effort, and maybe even a care package to enjoy. They are a bit more delicious than when I consumed them in America.
I always picked up the box and volah, I had breakfast, lunch or dinner. Yet, it’s unsatisfying because it’s every day, it’s too easy. I spent no time preparing — I didn’t watch its life cycle, I didn’t watch families weed the fields, I didn’t watch the women pick fruits and vegetables and sell them around town. When we put time and effort into something, we appreciate it — we are invested in it.
Why not start your own garden, or an herb garden if you don’t have the space or time for the real deal. Why not make homemade hummus instead of running to the store and buying a product that you have no attachment to, that you’re not even sure how the product is produced. I promise the effort is worth your attention. And, while you’re at it, take time to enjoy the food, away from distractions and noise.
Let’s start growing.