Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mixed Plate: The Last Days of 2010 and How I Learned to Embrace the Void

I'm likely still sifting through the Christmas photos I just took and probably prepping our New Year's Eve dinner, but that's not why I chose a photo from when 09 became 10 to herald the last post of 2010. If you're wondering what the heck this thing is, it's a tower of rice cakes or mochi, and a Japanese symbol for entering the new year. It's been said that life works in cyclical ways, and so it's got this Wasabi looking back as much as she's looking forward into 2011, and the magical, mystical tour called Life that lies ahead.

New Years mochi tower hollaback, when 2009 met 2010 - Photo by Wasabi Prime 

Would it be safe to say it's been a hell of a year? Yes, I think so. We've all had our share of up's and down's, and while it's easy to dwell on the things that didn't work out the way we'd planned (what, no discovery of cold fusion yet?? PFAIL!), there's something to be said in placing value on what was accomplished and how that will shape the challenge of what's to come.

I can only speak for myself, but I can say 2010 has been memorable. Every day was like a little race and every month felt like climbing a small mountain...wondering if a Yeti was going to devour you come Monday morning. This was the year I went to work full-time for myself. The hours are long and the pay kinda sucks for the time you spend both doing and drumming up work, along with following extra pursuits like blogging, but it's probably been the most rewarding thing I've done. This was the year I learned to embrace The Void. That sounds scary and forlorn, but it's an eye-opening experience to step outside of a comfort zone and dare to pursue an unknown future where the only person you really have to answer to is the one staring back at you through the mirror. Cue Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror (Sham-on!). You make the choice to not view it as a dark, spooky tunnel ahead, but simply a blank book waiting to be filled with whatever shenanigans come your way, no writer's block allowed. The just-keep-moving attitude yielded several incredible things, including getting published in a cookbook, getting regular spots in different publications for my writing and photography, and continuing as a graphic designer.

The passion for food, while significant, is not the center of my world, and that's good, because I don't want to just be about one thing; I sorta enjoy being pulled in multiple directions at once, as it keeps my brain from going stagnant. Focusing on food was a great reminder that the enjoyment and pursuit of meaningful edible experiences is a great analogy for living well and mindfully every day. The greatest lesson I took from the year was to live as much in the present as possible. For me, the preparation of food forced me to slow down and take note of things. The distractions that a more comfortable but predictable life once offered had been removed, so when you stared into that nothingness of possibilities, a funny little voice emerged from the darkeness saying, What are you lookin' at? Get off your lazy backside and do something. Motivation can be a cranky bugger.
Sure, this Void sure sounds like a kooky place, fraught with as much reward as there is panic. And it's not been without a few sacrifices, but  it's both liberating and a bit of a relief to realize what you can let go of (vacations, hopes for a nicer car, extra booze money), in lieu of what you inevitably gain (resourcefulness, sense of well-being). So I don't have a lot of clear ideas for what the new year will bring, but that's okay. My only hope that I stare into The Void of 2011 and seek to achieve more creative goals while managing to keep the bills paid.

Last year around this time, I took the photo above of the celebratory New Year or shogatsu mochi, with a bit of fearfulness over what 2010 would bring. I bought this year's satsuma orange (with the stem and leaf this time!) and will place it upon the same eerily-preserved mochi tower. But this time, I'm glad to say, there's a lot less fear and a lot more hope. Happy New Year, everybody.

No Fear in the New Year - Photo by Wasabi Prime

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  1. Such a beautiful well-written post! Happy New Year to you!

  2. 2010 was a pretty fine year, and I have a feeling 2011 will be even better!
    I love coming back here to see what you are up to, whether it is about food, action stars of the 80s, or having a peek at what your laundry room looks like. You always keep us interested and wondering what will be next.
    Happy New Year to you!

  3. May 2011 be another great year of self-discovery and hope. And yummy goodness. :)

  4. Happy 2010. I wish you a new year full of love, health and hope.

    Have you thought that there was maybe a reason why last year´s mochi picture was with an *unperfect* satsuma, while this year you happened to found the right one?....maybe the answer is in you?

    "What you do for yourself—any gesture of kindness, of gentleness…will affect how you experience your world". Pema Chödrön

  5. Lovely post. Wishing you a wonderful 2011!

  6. Sense of well being... I quit my job this summer.. although, my tranquility might be in in an uproar with the start of a new venture or two.. but still...knowing that will go somewhere verses the drone work... and only lateral promotions....I'm looking forward to being busy in the good kinda way... if that makes any sense at all.

    I think this year is going to be a good one, have a happy and healthy one too... cheers


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