This past week turned out to be especially busy for me, and so I decided to reprise one of my favorite posts originally written back in October of 2018. I’ve made a few minor changes to keep it current, but otherwise it’s mostly the same. I chose this one in particular because the subject matter feels very relevant to me right now. I am currently in the process of transitioning out of some of my prep responsibilities at Recklesstown to prepare for some exciting things ahead. More to follow on that! My perspective on life was certainly different four years ago, and I’m about to experience another big shift. It never ceases to amaze me how the universe continues to offer us endless opportunities to grow and change…
A few years back, I watched a truly informative little video that had been circulating on Facebook about how to take great photos with an iPhone camera. Most of us take pictures up at eye level and although the results are pleasant enough, they’re never really anything all that interesting. According to the friendly gentleman in the video who had a pleasant accent that I was never able to quite identify, what we should do is drop down and take the photo from an upward angle. Wow. Suddenly we’re in the running for a job with National Geographic. I know a thing or two about what he’s saying since I spend a good number of hours each week taking pictures of cocktails. Sometimes a minor adjustment this way or that way can make all the difference in the world, and I probably couldn’t even say why I made the change that I did. I’ve learned to instinctively shift my perspective and to trust the process by which that shift happens.
The idea of perspective in art is relatively easy to define: it is a technique used to create three dimensions that show depth and space on a two dimensional surface like a flat piece of paper. Learning how to employ perspective, however, is not quite as simple. It is, in fact, one of the hardest things for an art student to learn. One of the reasons why it’s so difficult is that our brain imposes its own truth on what our eyes see, and breaking established patterns of thinking does not happen easily. Consider the fact that we know that the earth’s spinning on its axis is the reason why we have night and day, yet our minds insist on perceiving that cycle as the sun rising and setting. That’s a perspective that is not likely to change anytime soon. We all have personal patterns or ways of regarding situations that can be equally resistant when we try to shift them. I wonder if all that’s required is something as basic as what our photographer friend suggested. Maybe we just need to alter the angle at which we look at things.
Because I spend two days a week with the five and under set known as Nora, Jack, and Nellie, I have had many opportunities to give this idea a try. Sometimes it can be very challenging to understand what any of them are trying to tell me, especially when they’re upset, or when they’re all talking at once. I’ve learned that if I drop down on my knees, instead of remaining standing, and look them right in the eye while they’re talking to me, our communication goes in a much more positive direction. Something about listening to them this way softens my gaze, to borrow a term from yoga, and I feel much more open to understanding them on an intuitive level, rather than imposing my own thoughts on what they’re trying to say. This makes complete sense though, right? Think about the times when we are listening to someone we care about tell us something that’s difficult for them to articulate and maybe even a little hard for us to hear. If we turn toward them and look them in the eye, we find an openness that allows us to let go of the thoughts our minds are imposing on the conversation. Suddenly we are ready to listen with our hearts rather than just with our heads.
I love the idea of there being an opening that occurs when we allow ourselves that shift in perspective. We begin to truly listen. How wonderful would it be if we were to seek this same intuitive approach when dealing with the internal conversations we all carry on with ourselves on a daily basis? I’ve said many times before in many different ways that it’s our heart that does all the dreaming. Think of that moment when we initially wake up in the morning: the first thing we feel is pure emotion. Maybe we were dreaming of something, or someone, or some change that we’d give anything to turn into a reality. What happens next? Our conscious mind arrives on the scene like some kind of crossing guard on steroids, arms waving wildly and orange safety vest flapping in the wind, reminding us that we have a day ahead and there’s going to be no putting the alarm on snooze. Let’s just stay the course and get the job done. But what if we allow ourselves a few extra minutes to consider those dreams with our gazes softened and turned inward? Is it possible that in that stillness we could could find a way to change our perspective? I’m certain of it. Taking those few moments every morning to offer thanks, or feel hope, or seek guidance can attend to the voice inside each of us that waits patiently for a chance to be heard above the clamor of our daily lives. Don’t you wonder what it’s trying to say?
For today’s cocktail, I’d been dreaming of building something around carrot juice, an ingredient that has worked for me in variations of a Bloody Mary and a Penicillin, but never in a drink served up in a coupe glass. Could I shift my perspective enough to make it happen? I began by looking for a base spirit that would allow the carrot juice to maintain its presence in the drink, but also provide its own subtle flavor. An habanero infused vodka from Hanson was absolutely perfect. From there, I added a pumpkin cordial that had just a bit of fall spice, and a turmeric tonic that brought in a savory component that worked very well with the carrot juice. I made a fennel simple syrup with the same thought in mind, and then splashed in a bar spoon of lemon juice to brighten things up. A dash of Jack Rudy aromatic bitters pulled the fall spices to the front a bit more and tied everything together. And there was my dream come true: a carrot based drink served up in a cocktail glass with fall spices and a subtle kick from the habanero vodka. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
2 oz Hanson Habanero vodka
½ oz Pumpkin King cordial
1 oz Lakewood Organic carrot juice
½ oz Goldthread Turmeric Radiance tonic
¾ oz fennel simple syrup (1:1 ratio, add fennel fronds and allow to steep until cool)
1 barspoon lemon juice
1 dash Jack Rudy aromatic bitters
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a fennel frond. Enjoy!