Issue 35, Red Brocade
On acts of nourishment towards others & ourself and how creativity moves through us
It’s been a hard few weeks and the inside of my head often feels like the outside of Medusa’s. I often find myself forgetting to breathe, to drink water, to eat and on the edge of another burn out. I am actively trying to reclaim myself from all the things that get in the way of living, of breathing, of nourishing and of receiving.
As I sit here filling in yet another round of tedious paperwork which allows me to exist in England - an opportunity that isn’t even accessible for most - I can’t help but think of the act of othering and it’s contribution to a restless and fearful world.
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India continues to devolve into an ethno-supremacy state, and open demolitions of homes of the minority community to which I belong are now the norm. I think about how much this othering while growing up and spending the last decade as an immigrant and rooted in me.
Today I want to share a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye - a poet we’ve written about previously - her poems always hitting a nerve. This poem caught my attention because, as simple as it reads in its actions, it also feels radical to extend generosity, to nourish another (or dare I say the self) regardless of their status or your constructed life. To refuse being claimed by “busy work” which keeps us away from others as much as our own selves.
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.
Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.
No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.
I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.
Let’s talk about nourishment - What is your favourite kind? Do you struggle to prioritise it? Do you have a ritual?
I’ve been following the artist Yumi Sakugawa for a while. I love their illustrations and almost always there is one with the right message when I need it. As I reduce the hold busy work has on me – I am starting to cultivate patience for the kind of rest that allows creativity. I notice fledgeling ideas flash when I pay attention, ideas for a creative practice I’ve long ignored.
If you’re living under a cave and have not heard about the brilliant Apple TV show called Severance - I highly recommend a watch, especially if you find yourself stuck/split between work and life.
As we talk about nourishment – I thought I’ll leave you with a simple recipe that is my go to whenever I need some sustenance and comfort in a pinch.
Start with 2 teaspoons of olive oil with one tea spoon cumin seeds in a pan
Add half a red onion thinly sliced
Mix in half teaspoon of ginger and garlic paste each. One if its a combined paste and let the mixture soften.
Handful of cherry tomatoes (optional)
Once soft, add a quarter tea spoon of red chilli and turmeric powder
Add half a tea spoon of coriander powder and salt to taste
Mix and dry sauté for a couple mins
Add 250 GM paneer, 3- 400 GM peas and half cup water. Then cover and let simmer for 5-10 mins on medium heat.
Last/best ingredient - pinch of dried fenugreek leaves
Simmer for a couple min on high heat and you’re done!
If what you’re after is some more inspiration yourself, I recommend The Sample, a newsletter that curates a new type of newsletter to your inbox every time.