Some of you may recall that before leaving Canada I relieved myself of most of my worldly possessions including my books. I can hear the collective gasp of the writers who grace my blogstep. Out they went, Neruda, Carol Shields, Henry James, Franzen, even Sedaris didn’t make the cut.
I took one book and one book alone, The Places That Scare You: A Guide To Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön, a buddhist nun who teaches at a Tibetan Monastery in, of course, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The reasons I kept this one for my current caper should be obvious.
Well today I wish I still had my Bonny with me. I’d race up to her like a chicken with my head cut off screaming, “get me Pema Chödrön on the phone right now. While you’re at it see where Karen Maezen Miller is and what the Dalai Lama’s up to because I have singlehandedly discovered the pathway to inner peace.”
But first let me tell you my Terms of Enlightenment. The answer came to me after a long period of… let’s call it reflection… that involved lounging in bed for half the day, then sitting in a chair for the other half followed by some quality time on the couch ending with a return to bed. It was exhausting.
I started with thinking about how I ended up here. About how I happened to find myself in a small town in France. How I wound up jobless, carless, bookless, hairless. Then I launched into pondering the future. What will become of me? What if I can’t ever speak French any better than I do today? What if I get really sick over here? What if I have nowhere to live come September? What if skinny jeans stay in style forever?
As usual I let my brain run on autopilot and propel me into a state of absolute paralysis. It was in this moment of self-generated mayhem that the meaning of life revealed itself to me. My husband passed me this:
Macarons. That famous French cookie, egg shell like crust with a delicate meringue texture followed by a layer of dark chocolate créme that would stop even the most rampant stream of consciousness. Look closer.
These are no ordinary macarons. They are beyond description. No words are able to capture their power. Come a little bit closer and take a deep breath. Smell the butter and cocoa?
I realized that every single decision I’ve ever made has led me to this moment, to these cookies. Today the past and future are not my business. There is only the now of macarons. I asked the macaron, “What the hell am I doing here?” The macaron said, “You think too much. Shut up and eat.”