project thing-a-day: 8. cake

I think it's been three days now since I started meditating again for the first time in about two months, and boy is my brain tired.

Last year I bit the bullet and bought a subscription to Headspace, hoping the sunk cost would inspire me to actually use it. When I'm capable enough at managing my life to put an emphasis on self-care, it's incredible. Meditation seems to be one of my two* domino habits—those that, when kept, seem to start an avalanche, and all of a sudden your teeth are always flossed and your kettlebells are never dusty and your inbox is a work of art.

And then you skip a day because of Reasons. And then another and another. And then twenty more minutes of sleep begins to seem a hell of a lot more important than twenty minutes of breathing and imagining things. And then it's been two months and your masseur-friend makes a joke about the weight of the world and laughs at how much more knotted your shoulders are and you laugh too because for some reason that's always the choice when you're in great physical pain, to laugh raucously or weep, and thankfully it's mostly the former because that's obviously the more badass option.

But now I'm aiming to cement the habit again. Due to the way the app works, the best choice seemed to be starting up again right where I left off, in the middle of a month-long series of guided meditations intended to increase creativity. The gist is that you picture a spark—a flame, or just a singularity of light—in the center of your chest that expands outward in all directions to completely fill all space, or at least as far as you can imagine. At first** I wasn't getting much further than the corner of Rosemary and Church, but before I dropped the habit in January, I could swear I felt a warmth that started just in front of my spine and a hand's width below my collarbone seeping through my body, and then the dizzying rush as it soared out through my skin and took the stars by storm.

Three days ago I wasn't storming any galaxies. I could barely convince my frenetic limbs to sit still, let alone get my mind to tell me the stories I wanted to hear. I knew all the logistical details and followed the right steps, but everything fell flat.

In another life I was a baker, and eventually a damn good one. One of my specialties was a lemon pound cake that was the perfect balance between airy and melting and velvety-rich with every bite, but only after the first dozen or so were afflicted with clumps, or only rose on the top half and were dense and chewy from the middle down, or (saddest of all) when I didn't guard my space in the kitchen fiercely enough and a prep cook would yell behind! and slam past with a sheet pan of peppers and the corner would send a heartrending clang and judder through my oven and my bones and the whole thing would fall flat.

I still remember every ingredient and step that went into those cakes, but I know that if I tried to mix one up today, my hands would not recapture the gentle surety they had before and I'd be left with a lemony-fragrant brick.

The obvious course of action here is to crumble it up, toast the crumbs, sprinkle them over a metric fuck-ton of vanilla ice cream, and use the sugar rush to get excited about washing the pans, zesting another three lemons, and trying again.

Metaphorically speaking.

-b

*My other domino habit, oddly enough, is drinking hot water with a quarter-lemon's worth of juice and some salt first thing in the morning.

**Weird thing: what happened at the VERY first and several times thereafter was that I'd try to picture a spark of light in my chest and every, every time it would refuse to be that and there and it would be a small drop of clear liquid refracting light from some unknown source, and it would be just in front of my spine and about three fingerwidths below my navel. But that's a story for another time.