I have found myself wondering recently about the things that define us as human beings. There are certainly many studies that show how related we are to other members of the animal world, particularly chimpanzees, but what are the traits that truly differentiate us? For starters, we have complex language skills, the ability to write things down, and the desire to share knowledge on a large scale. Not only are we able to communicate, but we are able to intuitively understand one another’s emotional states and belief systems, and react accordingly. We are the only creatures in the world that ponder the past so deeply and look to the future with such eagerness. It’s in the juxtaposition of these two things where we find our greatest struggle, and the trait that I consider to be our biggest flaw. We are unable, much of the time, to remain in the present moment. We exert a great deal of energy, each and every day, obsessing over things that have already happened, and anticipating whatever we think is going to come next. We are, in short, the only life form that spends so much time in its own head and, unfortunately, technology has become our greatest enabler. Our phones, tablets, and laptops allow us to escape our present circumstances even more, and the internal world in which we spend so much of our time expands limitlessly.
Despite all of this, many of us are great believers in some kind of a higher force that cradles our lives in its hands. We also believe in the power of setting intentions and asking for our deepest wishes to come true. Yet when we do witness the realization of a dream, we often fall back into a pattern of disbelief. We feel the need to reach for the conductor’s baton and to attempt to orchestrate the future. We struggle with allowing ourselves to just sit with it. We believe, quite erroneously, that we are the only ones that can bring it to its full potential, and so we begin to intervene, interfere, and manipulate. We let go of our faith in what is bigger than us at the very moment when we need to believe in it the most. I can be so guilty of this, and in recognition of that, I texted a friend back in the spring to tell her something wonderful. She is wise, wise, wise beyond her years and I knew she’d set me straight. “Allow it to just be,” she said. “Don’t ask questions. Whatever is meant for you will not pass you by. This I promise you.” Such powerful words, right? I thought so too, and I chose to hear them, and to really listen, to finally let my mind quiet down and my heart take over, and the result has been remarkable.
Why is believing in words such as these so hard for us? Sometimes I think that as our capacity for higher intelligence continues to evolve, we move farther and farther away from our emotional intuition. Or we begin to trust it less, relying on that which we can see, rather than that which we can only feel. We exhaust ourselves trying to make a job seem right that we dread going to every day. We hold on fiercely to relationships that do not fit us, with sharp points and edges that poke us constantly, and offer no hope for any kind of future. We hesitate to change the course of our lives, even though our heart knows what’s right, because everything beyond the first step is not readily apparent and without risk and consequences. It truly is a leap of faith to accept that jobs fail because we’re meant to be doing something more fulfilling, that relationships end so that we can learn how to truly love, and, most of all, that our lives can change profoundly without losing everything else in the process. It is truly a leap of faith to let go of all control, to fully embrace everything that is here and now with total abandon, and to love without fear, without limits, and without expectations. As humans, we share the capacity to feel extreme joy and profound suffering with many other creatures. The difference lies in the fact that we have the capacity to choose which it will be.
For today’s cocktail, I tried to create something that had flavors that were so wonderful that we would have no choice but to live only in the moment of enjoying them. An ambitious undertaking? Yes indeed. I started with a base of Cali whiskey, a blend of rye and bourbon meant to embody the spirit of California, given to me by my friends at Sukkah Hill. I then added a spirit called Lakrishot from Finland, that my friend Julie Goeltz brought back for me from a recent trip to Sweden. It’s a vodka that is infused with salted licorice. Go ahead, you can read that sentence again if you need to. I then reached for my bottle of Nux Alpina, a walnut liqueur from Austria that I’d ordered two years ago in an attempt to duplicate a drink for a friend who’d recently come back from the Napa Valley. And finally, to make things just a bit more irresistible, I added a teaspoon of a dark chocolate balsamic vinegar and a dash of orange bitters. I served this drink up, very cold, in a small Martini glass, with a garnish of sea salt and an expressed orange peel. It was a leap of faith worth taking, something about which I know a great deal these days. Cheers everyone. Happy, happy Friday!
A Leap of Faith
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice until very, very cold. Strain into a small, chilled Martini glass. express an orange peel over the drink and discard. Garnish with a dash of the salt and an orange strip. Enjoy!