Gratitude Soup

Last night’s Cabinet marathon meeting on how to manage the COVID-19 situation opened up a a Pandora’s box of reality checks all around us and the new scenario has all the makings a crappy B movie with underpaid, malnourished and sleepless actors. The main plot consists of how to gingerly steer the country into the murky Christmas waters, past the holiday rivers, and through the yet unexplored 2021 ocean.

Admiral Merkel and her motley crew of state ministers have constructed an extension of the already rickety Lockdown Light schooner, currently out at sea with its tattered sails of hope, political maturity and social responsibility. They are keenly aware that the krakens of Confusion and Pandemonium have been released, and the seething dragons of rebellion and civil disobedience wait among the foggy streets of the greater metropolitan cities of Germany, eagerly biding their time till the next round of Friday protests.

No amount of political cinematographic genius will be able to cover up the exhaustion and weariness of the entire crew, least of all the frontliners who have been yet again called to battle. We are in desperate need for a hero, and not even the great Vaccine Avengers will suffice.

Smaug ©FrogDiva Photography

No, I’m not drunk, I am just overdosed on bad news and frustrated with this entire year. Who isn’t? Today is American Thanksgiving, and although it is not my holiday to culturally appropriate, I grew up with all the Thanksgiving trimmings, and never missed the opportunity to count my blessings. Though the aforementioned B movie is playing in reality cinemas all around the globe at the moment, I will nevertheless take a moment to breathe in hope, faith and courage, and allow myself to be inspired by all the good things in my life.

I have lost so much in the last three years, much of which I have shared with you in this literary journey of mine, but I have also been showered with blessings in all sorts of manifestations. So today I started a new tradition for myself – gratitude soup.

It begins soaking the beans and chickpeas overnight. These are the staples in my life, the protein so to speak, of my soul. The values that I carry with me through the decades that keep me grounded, strong and resilient. It is important to balance these out properly, not too much that they overpower the soup, and and not too little that the true substance vanishes altogether.

Put them to the test the next morning by boiling them for 20 minutes in broth, onions, and spices. These are the challenges that have made me question my identity, rock my values to the core, and made me shed tears of despair. Caution must be taken not to allow the liquid to overflow, infusing everything with good will and generosity.

Lower the heat to medium, and add potatoes, lentils and carrots. These are the skills that enhance the foundation, adding new dimensions to the existence, creating exiting flavours and pushing the limits of the volume, but never overstepping the boundaries. Too many soups have been ruined in the past because of careless disregard of heat and volume, so now I measure everything carefully, and have learned when to draw the lines. Notice the liquid insecurities being replaced by substance and character development, and celebrate the progress.

After another 20 minutes, add zucchini and salt. This is what I refer as honing my craft and finding my niche. I could have gone with any other vegetable, but the neutrality and flexibility of the zucchini is important to me. It is all about variety and complementary creativity, which translates into networking and seeking out new horizons to explore, based on what you already know and are good at. The lesson here is to continue building but be mindful of your limitations. Simmer for 10 minutes over a low heat.

Add chopped bell peppers, fresh spinach, half a cup of sherry or martini rosso and turn off the heat. Let it rest a few minutes before serving with croutons. This is the part where I stir everything together one last time, and look at the creation my life has become. It started as insignificant and tasteless raw material, but transformed into an entire orchestra of substance, self-awareness, and gratitude for every conscious move and decision.

This is the soup of experience that has been through the fire, withstood the waters that could have easily drowned me, This is the day to be grateful for being alive to cook it.

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