I used to want everything in the world, lots of it, and all at once.
I longed to watch all of the movies ever made, and binge-watch tv shows endlessly. (Sidenote: am I the only person that gets overwhelmed at the onslaught of Netflix’s selections? Does this choice paralysis make you end up watching…. nothing?) I had lists and lists and Google Docs of all of the books that I MUST read before I die from millions of different people in order to reach prime intellect and have a top-notch vocabulary. All of the restaurants I needed to try and recipes I HAD to make and cakes and pies and cookies and people to see and this to do and experience plus all of the cities and places I needed to travel and cultures I needed to be exposed to because it’s obviously integral for my development as a human and the only way that one can live a full life. When I accomplished all I needed to, I could sit on my death bed knowing I did and experienced and read and ate and painted and went to everything I wanted to in the world. All at the same time. Check, check. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Chaos. Barrage of choice. A non-stop urgency to live characterized my life. Right now and always and forever.
I flew out of my body and first, diagnosed myself as just a little insane. This intensity was ferocious, and instead of actually sitting and enjoying each of these (albeit, awesome) activities, taking pleasure in the nuances and unexpected crevices of fun that encompass what it means to truly be alive, thoughts of the need to fit in more consumed me. What could be next? What could I add to this bucket list?
I stopped the self-inflicted pressure of living, listened to some John Legend, and slowed it down. Mary Oliver has this quote, ““Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”. It got me thinking, if I continue to behave in this way I’m going to be the old woman that lives in, no, not a shoe but office depot because of all of the supplies I need to record what I want to do.
Instead I started to do much less, but I decided to actually be present. I would be driving in my car listening to a song that makes me sing opera-style (I hope you get to drive next to me one day – now THAT is an experience) and I would look around and literally feel like I was in a movie, but it was way better, because hello? it’s real. I began listening and noticing more in people’s presence, in their vibes, in their smells. I started feeling each step I took, how different grounds feel, how my restricted toes wiggled in my cooking clogs, how mushy people felt when I hugged them, to their smiles, to my one-of-a-kind laugh. I reveled in simplicity, squeezing all of the juice I could from each lone experience. In the kitchen, I now identified cooking with honest ingredients, utilizing every bit of the ones I had on hand.
These roasted tomatoes came into my life after my mom, good-recipe-hoarder extraordinaire (I had to get it from somewhere, right?) made them repeatedly and I ate them all. This particular recipe is one of hers that actually can turn out the same way she does it, because we all know that food cooked by moms is not the same as food cooked by their offsprings. It’s just tomatoes, shallots, balsamic, garlic, oil, and salt. You’re probably thinking right, whatevs. Not something I wanna experience, I have way too many recipes to cook.
But, these tomatoes go through a metamorphosis in the oven. These few ingredients, time, and heat, give birth to a food baby so complex that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it tastes like. Pungently sweet? With a smack of acid? This baby flavor-screams in your mouth, and will render you aghast with how good it is. Promise.
In the same way, we can take what’s in front of us, go slow, and fully soak in just that. To be content what we have. To spend time with those we love. To accept the fact that there isn’t enough time in this universe to do everything. To be truly okay with that fact. To then choose to live instead. To not measure worthiness of our time on this planet to our experiences or our accomplishments or how savvy we are to fitting it all in. To not be perfect. To realize, in the end, that we don’t need much at all.
Note: these keep very well and can go on almost anything. I eat them on salads, with tuna, in omelets (!), with yogurt, in a sandwich. They are a perfect condiment.
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Set your oven at 400 degrees.
In a large bowl or directly on your baking sheet if you’re lazy (me), toss the tomatoes, shallots, garlic, balsamic, and olive oil together, until the everything is nicely coated. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Toss again.
Spread out onto a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing every so often, until the tomatoes are completely soft and nicely caramelized.