It’s a cloudy day outside, mildly chilly, very quiet. I must admit that I have been looking forward to writing. At a rather turbulent time, I find solace in putting some of my thoughts on paper. The need to think, the ritual of writing, the anticipation of sharing – I find it comforting. And yet, at the same time, I must also admit that I find it hard to write about something when the only thing I want to write about is the only thing I cannot write about. Not yet, anyway.
So I find myself back here in the Nordic Bakery that has, somehow, become my unofficial writing desk. There is the same, large latte on my right, and an oven pancake in front of me. My dear reader, if you’re ever in London, and you ever need someone to talk to – 9am, Saturdays, Nordic Bakery, Soho, I’ll be there, just look for the oven pancake and the latte.
As I sit at my table, way in the back of the shop, trying to take in industrial silence, trying to think about what I want to write about, trying to hide. I look around, I try to find something that I can focus on. I sip my coffee. I feel the wooden panels on the walls, the cracks, the smooth varnish, and the rough scrapes. My mind begins to wander to places I so desperately don’t want it to go to. Places that, for now, I need to set aside. I take a bite of my oven pancake.
I take another bite, this time with the wonderful, delectable jam that they offer here – I’d like to believe it is homemade, but to be honest with you, it really doesn’t matter. I suddenly remember a scene from Mad Men, from the episode called The Carousel – I strongly urge you to watch what I believe is one of the most powerful scenes put on screen, it’s on YouTube. Don Draper says,
“…it’s called the carousel. It let's us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.”
If the ritual of writing gives me momentary solace, it is food that puts me back on the carousel. A ritual so basic, so fundamental to our existence that we forget the meaning of it. We forget that food not only sustains us, but it makes us pause, for the briefest of moments and takes us to a place inside of us where there is nothing but love, even if it is just for a moment. Food has that power. It’s like being hugged by someone – maybe someone you love, maybe someone you’ve lost – someone whose embrace will always be home. No one can take that away from you.
There are times when we lose faith, when we forget what it means to believe. Sometimes it’s the velocity of life itself, sometimes it’s the tornado that tears your home from it’s foundations, daring you to build it again. Those are the times when your leg shakes violently, when your breath staggers uncontrollably, when you feel like control is a forgotten concept. It’s at times like that, you walk into your nearest Nordic Bakery, order an oven pancake and a latte, take two deep breaths, and remind yourself to have faith. Remind yourself to have Iman.