As many of you know, the Japanese author Haruki Murakami is one of my absolute favorites. In 2009, he traveled to Israel to accept the Jerusalem prize for literature, an award given to writers whose work deals with themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government. He was advised not to go because of the violent fighting that was occurring in Gaza at the time. He ignored that advice and gave an acceptance speech in which he said that the following quote would forever be engraved in his mind: “Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.” Although Murakami claimed not to be making a direct political speech that day, he did go on to draw metaphorical comparisons between human beings as eggs, and the systems of government that we create as walls. He believes that his one and only reason for writing is to “keep a light trained on The System in order to prevent it from tangling our souls in its web and demeaning them.” In short, the driving force behind his work is to champion human individuality and personal dignity. There is much talk of walls these days and I certainly have no desire to enter into that fray. I will say that I agree with Murakami in that the political structures we put in place to protect human rights sometimes end up being their greatest threat. The constant vigilance and demand for accountability that can come from the artistic world often seems to be one of the few things that has the power to neutralize that threat, even if only because it raises awareness.
I’m more interested in applying Murakami’s idea to something we all seem to personally struggle with as human beings. Isn’t it true that we reach a point in our childhood when we begin to realize that it’s no longer possible to remain an open book as it pertains to our deepest thoughts and feelings? It becomes necessary to construct certain walls within ourselves that help delineate what’s appropriate to share and not share. Sometimes outside occurrences cause us to reinforce these walls and we build them higher and higher. But isn’t it equally true that there also exists an egg somewhere inside us that represents the sense of self that existed before the need for structure, and that desires very much to rail against those walls, even if it means breaking wide open in the process? Much like political systems, we build our internal walls with the best intentions in mind. They are meant to keep us safe, and to provide us with the comfort that is safety’s counterpart. The problem is that comfort is what often keeps us from realizing our true potential as human beings. If we are too comfortable, we will never find the courage to break against that wall, again and again if necessary, until we are ready to remove it altogether and allow true growth and change to begin. With each brick that comes down, we free ourselves from an oppression that comes from within, and we move past self-limiting thoughts and behavior. Although the path to that freedom may be difficult, or even painful at times, the possibilities it offers are endless, and the the rewards can exceed even our wildest expectations.
For today’s cocktail, I began with a base of Hanson Organic Habañero vodka and paired it with Giffard Pamplemousse Rose and Brancott Sauvignon Blanc to create a grapefruit martini. I went in this direction because grapefruit is a symbol of new beginnings, particularly those that come from within. The Hanson vodka gave the drink a nice level of heat that served as a reminder of what a dynamic and exciting process it can be to move away from patterns of thinking that limit us. I also used 2 dashes of Bittercube’s Jamaican #2 bitters to intensify the grapefruit in a slightly different way, and to add a hint of vanilla and spice. Three drops of a high quality vanilla extract brought the drink right to the point where I wanted it to be. Although grapefruits are often thought of as being very sour, they pair beautifully with vanilla to create an entirely different taste sensation. As human beings we require certain boundaries and borders within ourselves; without them, life would be a free for all. I’m not suggesting that we remove them all, but rather that we examine those that are holding us back from a higher level of compassion and a deeper sense of understanding, especially for ourselves and for the journey our lives may have taken. Cheers everyone. Happy Wednesday!
Against a Wall
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until very, very cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass and serve. No garnish. Enjoy!