Valentine’s Day is on Monday, and so I confess that I may have spent a minute or two reading love poems over the course of the past week. Research is, after all, a required activity for someone who blogs. I came across a poem by David Whyte called The Truelove that I’d never seen before. It made me think about the movie, The Perfect Storm, which may sound a bit odd to you, but I promise that I’m going somewhere with this. There is a certain scene that happens midway through the film when Captain Billy Tyne brings his crew up on deck and has them look across the ocean so they know what lies ahead of them. We see it too. It is my favorite moment because the look on their faces perfectly captures everything they would have been feeling: fear, awe, the sense of inevitability, the subsequent resignation. There is no way out; the only thing they can do is push on and face what is about to happen. On a smaller scale, we’ve all experienced similar instances. How many of you have stepped outside to take down the patio umbrella, ahead of a thunderstorm, and stolen a glance at the sky just to see it coming? I know that I have. What is it that we feel when we look up? Power and raw energy, for sure, but there is definitely more. For just a split second, we feel alive, really and truly alive. We are ready for the storm to unleash its power because we are certain that we can withstand it. The first flash of lightening may send us tearing back into the house and straight towards the basement, but for that instant we believe we are invincible.
Is it generally fair to say that human beings gravitate towards a sense of equilibrium, so an adverse reaction to anything that threatens to disrupt the stasis makes complete sense. It is equally true, however, that for some of us there is a storm sitting on the horizon that may rival the one Billy Tyne had to face. We won’t be able to get away with just stealing a glance; we’re going to have to confront it head on. As I talked about in my Journal Prompt post from two Fridays ago, we begin imposing limits on ourselves at a very early age, and we can quickly fall into the trap of feeling unworthy. This sentiment follows us easily into adulthood where it may manifest in a wide range of ways. We may settle for jobs that leave us unfulfilled, pine after loves that are unrequited, or enter into relationships filled with codependence. On a much quieter level, we may never learn how to say yes to the even the smallest joys that life has to offer like learning a new language, or taking a music lesson, or spending a day alone at an art museum. We believe that we are undeserving of any happiness that does not directly result from meeting our responsibilities. These seemingly minor denials may not overtly shake or rattle the house, but they are still detrimental forces that threaten to erode our foundation. Is it possible to ever break free from these patterns? I think the solution lies in our response to the following question: is there a voice inside us that we are refusing to hear? If the answer is no, then we need only to maintain the beautiful equilibrium we have created. We are already at peace. If, on the other hand, there is a cry for something more, then we’d better turn our eyes towards the horizon.
The storm that David Whyte describes in The Truelove may not be as shocking or major as we would expect. He sees it as something far more nuanced that will be found “in loving fiercely the one who is rightfully [ours].” Although I think his poem can be read as a beautiful expression of what we may feel towards another person, I believe that the main relationship to which Whyte is referring is the one we are in with ourselves. We all know intuitively that we cannot find peace, joy, or love in the world until we find them within our own hearts, nor can we really extend them to anyone else. Despite this intuitive knowledge, the practical application of these ideas can be somewhat difficult. We shun the thought of self love and label it a new age concept to be left on the yoga mat, or captured by an eye roll emoji, and yet it is the very thing that is responsible for any invincibility we ever felt in the face of a thunderstorm. It is only when we listen to what is unspoken that we have the courage to step into the waves, and know we will not drown, because “finally after all this struggle and all these years [we] simply don’t want to any more / [we’ve] simply had enough of drowning and [we] want to live.” It’s Valentine’s Day. Celebrate the person you love, but celebrate the person you are first. Hear your voice and ask yourself, “what will it take to answer?”
For today’s cocktail, I chose simple ingredients that I thought would resonate with most of us. I wanted to unify our experience of stepping into the storm. Who doesn’t love coffee, chocolate, oranges, and moonshine? Wait, moonshine?? Yes! Ben Donia crafts a wonderful one at Recklesstown Farm Distillery with amazing notes of chocolate and smoke sitting just beneath the surface. In the style of a flavored martini, I began with the moonshine, added the incomparable Giffard’s Crème de Cacao White, a homemade orange peel simple, and a dash of Recklesstown’s orange bitters (my original recipe). After stirring those together, I slowly topped the cocktail with Eight and Sand’s coffee porter. When it hit, it swirled through the drink like wild storm clouds before finally settling into a peaceful whole. Cheers everyone! Happy Friday. Thank you so much for reading.
Add the first four ingredients to a mixing glass.
Long, long stir with ice.
Single strain into a martini glass.
Slowly top with the coffee porter.
Garnish with three coffee beans.
*Giffard products can be found at Traino’s Liquors in Mt. Laurel if you’re local to South Jersey.
**Make a simple syrup with equal parts water and sugar. Add one 1X3 inch orange peel per 6 ounces of syrup. I use the peel of an entire orange for 50 ounces. Let rest several hours to overnight.
Click here to read The Truelove if you missed the link above.