Well, it finally happened, folks: The New Year’s meltdown I experience every first week in January. Usually it hits around the 1st or 2nd of the month. Maybe it’s late this year due to El Niño. Anyway, there I was, bopping along today, eager and hopeful about all of the exciting plans ahead when, suddenly, up it crept: THE FEAR.
Oh, THE FEAR. That oozing sense of dread, like the kind a tightrope walker must face every time that safety net is pulled away. Oh, the string of what ifs that must play through their mind.
It’s the what ifs that are really the basis behind THE FEAR that paralyzes me each new year. I set some new goals, imagine the possibilities, develop a game plan…and next thing I know, I can’t breath.
This year, I’ve set my tightrope higher than I ever have before with a project I’m currently calling my life’s work:
A TRAVEL COOKBOOK!
Would you like to see the cover? Just kidding. I don’t have one yet. But here’s a sweaty picture of me holding a bowl of lemon-parmesan cavatappi to set the tone:
HOW IT ALL STARTED
I was a teenager when the desire to travel the world hit me. When it came time to graduate, I selected Geology as my college major because I heard that geologists traveled and made $60K dollars a year. Once I discovered that geology was all about chewing tobacco and drilling for oil, however, I switched majors to education so that I could teach English to children by the distant shores of the Yangtze. Five years later and with a degree in hand, I promptly got married, settled in west Texas and landed a job…at a sandwich shop.
It was around this time that I watched a program on television where Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali scampered around Italy in search of old ladies who were willing to teach and share their meatball and pasta recipes. (On second thought, they might have went to Spain. That part is fuzzy.) You cannot imagine the jealousy I felt for Gwyneth and Mario in that moment. (Or maybe you can. Such an adventure would make anyone envious.) They were living out an experience I could only dream of having. Not only were they traveling the world, but they were cooking with interesting people and sharing meals with strangers. And getting paid to do it! From that day forward, whenever anyone would ask what my dreams in life were, I’d utter some cliche answer but secretly I knew it was to travel, cook and eat with strangers, and then write about it.
HOW IT ALMOST ENDED
Did you catch the part where I said “secretly” wished? (Are there desires that you secretly have, too?) I say that I “secretly” wanted to have the experience of writing a travel cookbook because I just couldn’t see how such an experience could ever happen for me in reality. For rich movie stars? Absolutely. For a normal person with college debt and a house payment? Never. Such silly, impractical dreams should be kept secret. If anything, to lessen the pain of them never coming to pass.
And now, here we are! (Let’s pretend I just fast-forwarded through a slideshow of all the years it took me to stop waiting for others to make my dreams a reality and start making them happen myself, shall we?)
So, here we are.
We are here, now.
…Oh dear God. What the fuck am I doing?
[Heeeere it comes!]
Do I even realize how much money a book like the one in my head will cost to create? All the plane tickets, hotel fees, cab and train fares, food, camera equipment and publishing costs needed to produce a 150-page glossy-photoed masterpiece?? And what if I don’t find enough people who are willing share their recipes? What if nobody even buys the damn book? And what about my business? The maintenance of this blog? HOW WILL I EARN A LIVING AND KEEP FOOD ON THE TABLE IF I’M SPENDING MONEY OUT THE WAZOO??
FINDING MY “WHY”
The easy remedy for all of this FEAR would be to simply not write the book. There! Done! We did it!
But this easy remedy has yet to work for me. Not doing is much more painful. To simply not do something would mean another year of standing still while the tick-tock tick-tock of a distant clock grows closer and closer and closer. Says the clock:
Life-is So-short, Life-is So-short
The years have sifted a LOT of desires out of me, but WRITING and TRAVEL have always stuck with me. However, if my reasons for writing this book were solely about food and sightseeing, then this dream would have fallen by the wayside a long time ago. Rather, my reason, my WHY, that keeps this idea of a travel cookbook simmering on the back of my mind is the connections to be made.
Have you ever seen a person across a crowded room, in passing, or even on television or on social media and thought, “Wow, I’d really like to meet and talk with that person!”? That’s how I feel about the people I imagine meeting during the making of my book. Only, instead of just talking, we’d cook, share culture and stories and food! There are a million ways to connect with a person, and I’m letting my passions become the vehicle for these connections. Also, because pizza.
AND NOW TO SKY DIVING
Somewhere in the middle of all this book traveling/writing, I plan to jump out of an airplane. There’s something about falling through the air with nothing in front of me to catch me that sounds like the right thing to do; a metaphor come full circle. And right now life is glorious, painful, full of wonder, terrifying, beautiful and covered in cheese. Isn’t cheese the ultimate comfort food? I should write a book about all of the people who find comfort in cheese—stop talking.
All of this to say, I don’t know what the coming year(s) looks like for this corner of the internet. Should I continue to share recipes here or simply save them all for my book? I dunno. Should I attempt any DIY or gardening projects during this time? No clue. What about all the marketing and audience growth I need in order to even sell my book? I got nothing. Not yet, anyways.
Comparing this journey to a tightrope walker sounds so cliche, but it’s what I’m empathizing with at the moment. To know that a tightrope walker accomplishes such a daring feat only because he or she moves one step at a time is a tremendous comfort. Like, maybe I will get to the other side of this book adventure. Maybe I will suceed. In the meantime, there are a lot of unknowns and questions that need answers, but those answers may not materialize today or tomorrow. Maybe the answers to all the what ifs are not what I need in the present moment to move forward anyway. I know WHY I am embarking on this painful, glorious, full of wonder, terrifying, beautiful, covered-with-cheese journey and that is what I need to step out into the air. (So here‘s hoping the parachute opens.)
Talk to me! What you are embarking on this year?