My best friend in the world and roommate for nearly ten years (until she got engaged and moved to Oklahoma to be with her fiancé – whom I love, lucky for him) is back home again and I couldn’t be more delgithed. Even though she’s technically been gone for over a year, the minute she walks through the door we fall right back into our old routine.
Our typical Friday night usually goes something like this: Alexis cooks dinner while I get in the way; I clean up until Lex relieves me of my duties and reorganizes the entire dishwasher, not because she thinks me incapable, but because she possesses an uncanny ability to bend the laws of dishwasher physics; then we veg out on the couch watching Aaron Sorkin dramas or the BBC til we fall asleep.
On Friday night we did all of those things, except this time I cooked. And it was delicious. You’ve got to understand that before I lived with Alexis, I could barely make toast. She literally had to teach me the thing about putting salt in the water when you make pasta. However, over the past few months I’ve made a real effort to teach myself to cook. I’m even working through my irrational fear of under-cooked chicken-related bird flu! Plus, as Alexis was as yet unaware of my new-found culinary abilities, it was a trip to be able to surprise her with this…
[Okay, I admit that the picture actually makes it look kind of gross, but I promise it looked a lot better in person. It’s wild salmon on a bed of baby spinach with raspberry butter sauce, garnished with walnuts and nectarines. Because I use garnish now. Like a champ.]
The next afternoon Alexis and I drove out to Long Island to attend our dear friend Benjamin’s wedding. This is when the awesomeness factor really kicked into high gear. The rehearsal dinner was that evening and it was, in a word – incredible. For starters, I got to stuff my face with a literal boat load of sushi (paleo diet be damned!), but as good as the food was (and it was pretty spectacular) the conversation was better.
I spent the evening re-connecting with a group of people whom I adore and don’t get to see nearly often enough. Naturally we spent time catching up with each other’s lives and chatting about our significant others (or lack thereof), children (or lack thereof) and successful careers (I think you can see where I’m going with this.) But things went a lot deeper than that, as they are wont to do when you’re surrounded by a host of intelligent, creative, compassionate and enlightened people. The warmth and love radiating from our group was palpable and rather intense. Which, I suppose, is par for the course for anybody connected to Benjamin…
Simply put, my friend Benjamin is amazing. He’s an incredible musician, a gifted teacher, a generous friend and one of the most spiritually fulfilled and consequently, happiest people I know. For the longest time, my knee-jerk reaction to Ben was to secretly look down upon his crazy yoga-doing, meditation-practicing, healthy-eating ways. I would try (and typically fail) to understand all of his and Alexis’ conversations about energy and visualization and healing and…stuff. Mostly I wrote it all off as hippy-dippy, new-agey crap.
Until I realized that it’s isn’t.
I’ve only recently learned how easy it is to be cynical. I used to confuse cynicism with intelligence, but it’s not smart – it’s comfortable. It can be really funny when done well. But it’s also empty and that kind of emptiness, no matter how much laughter it garners, is never truly satisfying. At least not in any sort of lasting way. At least not for me.
To those of you who enjoy my frequent displays of cynicism, no worries! It’s not going anywhere. I am still one hundred percent committed to verbally eviscerating my bad dates, telling tales from the somewhat-less-than-glamorous-and-often-seamy-underbelly of the silver screen, making fun of all my NYC neighbors and their wacky ways, and even throwing the occasional Russian super model under the metaphorical bus. But that’s just the part of my life that I choose to share on the blog. This is where I come to rant and throw tantrums. If other people happen to enjoy my ravings and maybe get a laugh or two, so much the better. However, in my personal life (which, I realize, I am now sharing on the blog) I’m trying to make a different choice.
For much of my adult life I was operating under the misapprehension that ambition, achievement and their ensuing financial rewards would lead to happiness. I gloried in the sacrifice of choosing work over friends and family…over life. I thought it made me stronger, better and more dedicated to my chosen career, but at the end of the day, it only made me frustrated, exhausted and miserable. Go figure.
My more spiritually-minded friends on the other hand, tend to subscribe to the kind of life that is about openness and letting in all that life has to offer, rather than trying to beat life over the head and bend it to your will. Ironically, they also tend to be the same people who are wildly successful in their careers, have wonderfully close relationships with their families and friends, and maintain a rich and varied spiritual life that they’ve defined for themselves. I had (have) a lot to learn.
Of course, these realizations didn’t happen overnight. Like most changes, they came about incrementally, in dribs and drabs. Born out of hardships and friendships, successes and failures…my way of thinking slowly began to evolve. And for all my former inability (or perhaps more accurately, my unwillingness) to see the inherent power of a fulfillment-driven, rather than an achievement-driven life, even I couldn’t ignore the incredible energy (there, I said it) surrounding Benjamin and BJ’s wedding…
…which I will have to tell you about another time. I hate to leave things hanging like this, but I’m pretty exhausted. Besides, I kind of went off the reservation there a little bit and I need a minute to re-group.
I guess this proves that my weekend was indeed so full of amazing that it was too much to fit in one post. So I’m going to get some sleep and come back to this tomorrow with fresh eyes. Until then…