Thursday, October 10, 2013

Patterns Unfolding

Let's talk about tomatoes ripening in a windowsill!
Now that it’s Fall again, it seems like a good time to talk about food.  Actually, I always think it’s a good time to talk about food, but I know not everyone shares my passion, so I reign myself in.  Today, though, it’s time to let myself go, because I noticed something. 

I was talking to a friend recently and had a discovery about myself.  I’ve been delving into the (wonderful and overwhelming) world of computer software, in an attempt to help streamline my work process in my new job.  My friend remarked that it was surprising I’d never gotten into tech-y stuff like that before, and I realized that I’m the type who has to be jolted into being interested in something.  I don’t absorb interest through instruction; I don’t gradually slide into a habit or a hobby.

Instead, I am only marginally aware of one topic or another until something shifts, and suddenly I discover that it’s a new focal point of my life (granted my life, like an ellipse, has many foci, not just one, but that’s beside the point).  This happened to me with food, when I was a sophomore in college.  I’d just been on a college trip to Greece, which was the best culinary experience of my life, and then I came home and our whole family went on a Mediterranean-style diet. 

From then on, I’ve never looked back. 

Because my mom was learning a new cooking style, I took the chance to step into the kitchen and learn right along with her.  Then I returned to college and started cooking elaborate meals for myself and Vasnefy.  Then I returned to my home town and started working, which meant a bit less free time for cooking – but that only honed my eagerness to squeeze it in when I could. 

Plum jam is now a passion of mine!
The next stage started about a year ago, when I began watching documentaries and reading books about the modern agricultural industry.  I’d tended to poo-poo the organic, green, sustainable movement. But on the one hand friends of mine were learning about sustainable living in school and on the other I was being bombarded with scary information about modern food.  I suddenly realized the organic movement was important.  I began doing a little gardening and a little preserving.  This summer has seen me shop for fully half to three-quarters of my food in my garden or at the farmers’ market.  Now I’m spending the fall putting up all kinds of fruits, pickles of various vegetables, and pumpkins for pie and bread. 

It’s been interesting to discover that my interests follow a snow-balling pattern. 

Of course, as soon as I discover an element of my personality which I’d not thought of before, I immediately apply that discovery to everything I can, to see if it holds true (I studied 8 semesters of philosophy in college, so I am perhaps overly inclined to analysis!).  The part of myself which seems most essential to me is the writer, so I began thinking about that. 

When I was 11, at the end of 6th grade, I told my Mom that I wanted to be a concert pianist, when I grew up.  Then when I was 12, I told her again that I thought I’d like to be a translator.  All along, while practicing piano and translating Latin and French, I kept reading voraciously.  Words and communication where what I loved.  I wanted my favorite authors to go on talking to me forever.  I wanted to communicate with others by music and language. 

This was all part of a pattern, I’ve realized: my interests were slowly clarifying based on my true passion. 

It wasn’t until 9th grade when the mother of my pen-pal turned out to be a YA Fantasy Author and sent me her manuscript for feedback that I could actually formulate what I truly was becoming.  I thought: Why not me too?  I loved stories and I’d been telling myself little tales to put myself to sleep or entertain myself in bored moments for years.  Surely I could write some of them down. 

Patterns lead to growth and fruit!
I started writing a (very Tolkien-derivative) fantasy story that year, and I’ve been writing something or other ever since.  Granted I’ve changed my focus during that time from fantasy to science fiction to literary fiction.  My writing style has also almost completely transformed.  That’s all part of the pattern though.  For me it slowly gathers force and power.  I think I’ll look back on my writing in another ten years and realize that it has gone on to become something new yet again. 


I enjoy watching this process of change and development.  For me, that’s what it means to be human, since it’s the particular way my humanity manifests.  I think everyone has different patterns, though.  I’d love to know how any visitors to my blog would trace their development as artists throughout their lives.