February 09, 2007

A Deeper Shade of Soul

The moment I let go of it,
was the moment I got more than I could handle.
The moment I jumped off of it,
was the moment I touched down.
- thank u - alanis morissette

A delightful, intelligent friend, Rebecca, whom I met through one of my three graces (Karen), turns forty this weekend.

And as I passed the fridge today, this clipped quote from the newspaper fluttered in the breeze, begging for attention -

"Forty - sombre anniversary to the hedonist - in seekers after truth like Buddha, Mohammed, Mencius, St. Ignatius, the turning point of their lives."

Cyril Connolly

Our Cyril was a man of letters apparently (I had to look him up - being not a woman of letters so much as a woman of um, verbiage - I just looked it up to be sure it was the right verbiage, and find I'm bridging definitions 1 and 2).

I guess that means Cyril, amongst other things, quipped professionally...

I see him in his leather (apparently left)wing back chair at the club for liberals, oxblood of course, sucking back morosely on a cigar and looking off into the distance the way men of letters do.

The clipping itself I'm sad to say is looking fairly aged - it's lived on my fridge door since I crossed the bridge to invisibility - aka turning 40 - (yes Rebecca, there is a 40-year-old invisibility cloak...most of us who wear it are only visible to each other - no one under 20 can hear or see us, or apparently wants to).

Which brings me back to my least favourite lesson of becoming an adult- which I only hinted at before - learning to suck it up.

This is a lesson that has fought me my whole life. I wanted my parents together as a kid. I wanted my brother to be alive as we grew into adulthood. I wanted nieces and nephews and a big family. I thought I wanted this love, then this love...

And it has taken me this long to maybe get it. Maybe I've got it, maybe I don't. If feels fragile.

It's about learning what you can change, but more importantly learning to live with what you can't.

That feeling that makes my soul itch and twitch.

This is not the same thing as giving up. Not by a long shot.

I think what I mean is that I want what I want - and sometimes life just won't cooperate. And learning to take that with grace is a sign of growing up.

For me, somewhere, I learned to stop pushing back against that feeling of inner frustration. The last time I felt grief, I pushed back against it - determined to just go on and fight it. But at some point, just when I thought I couldn't take the pain anymore, I heard myself say, "Okay that's it. I give. I'm not pushing against it anymore."

And I felt better. My chest eased. I found it effortless to smile.

It was like a turning point - not long before my 40th.

Sometimes you swim against the current, and sometimes you enjoy the float downstream.

I think that's how my simplicity quote came to mean so much to me - the one I posted last week: "Simplicity is not a goal, but one arrives at simplicity in spite of oneself, as one approaches the real meaning of things."

I wasn't seeking truth as Cyril suggests - at least I didn't think so. But I think as I was turning 40, it found me, a piece of my truth, anyway.

It was a sort of turning point, a definite passage into my "fuck you" years, and a place that got more honest, more compassionate and simpler...and far more beautiful, more loving, and fun.

Steve and I got married when we were both 41. He got the best of me...

So. Happy, happy birthday Rebecca.

My friend Karen, who introduced me to the fortyturningrebecca, turned 40 herself last birthday. We all went to a restaurant that has a private kitchen and dining room at the back - and Karen selected roast lamb...

So here is a recipe I've made a couple of times which is a beautiful rendition of roast lamb, but faster, with clean, simple ingredients that will resuscitate the retired hedonist in anyone (over 40 or not).

Balsamic Lamb Salad - adapted from Donna Hay

650g (21 oz) boneless lamb loin or fillet

1/2 cup (4 fl oz) balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup (4 fl oz) orange juice

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp oregano leaves

8 small, waxy potatoes, halved

125 g (4 oz) salad leaves - my favourite combo here is arugula with a few fresh mint leaves.

Trim the lamb and place in a shallow dish.

Combine the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, sugar and oregano and pour over the lamb. Allow the lamb to marinate for 10 minutes on each side.

While the lamb is marinating, boil or steam the potatoes until soft, then rinse under cold water to cool. (Now when I've made this, I've parboiled new potatoes for a few minutes, then put them in a skillet in melted butter on medium high heat. I allowed them to brown on one side, flipped them over, turned the heat to low and allow them to sit there - covered, until dinner was ready. It's like having roasted potatoes without having to fire up the oven - this is an idea courtesy of my friend Andrew.)

Heat a frying pan over high heat. remove the lamb from the marinade and cook the meat in the pan for 3-4 minutes on each side. Place on a plate and cover to keep warm. Add the marinade to the pan and cook for two minutes.

To serve, place the salad greens and potatoes on serving plates. Slice the lamb, place on the salad and spoon over the warm pan juices.

Serves 4.

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