Since we have just gotten through the holidays, I would like to reflect on one aspect of the holidays that people often avoid and complain about doing themselves, but enjoy all the same: Cooking. I hear people moaning and groaning around me about the effort that goes into cooking a great meal for themselves and their families/friends around the holidays. No matter how great the end product was for yourself or for others, cooking a great meal takes time, energy and even money. Similarly, writing is a chore to many people that have to do anyway whether it is for work or school. It can even be a chore to those who enjoy it the most, the aspirational writers like us, who fall into the trap of “writer’s block” or simply grow tired of laboring for the reward of completing a piece we have worked on.
I am one of those rare lovers of both cooking and writing, though even I have times in which I must force myself to do both. Right now, I cook for a living and I write as a hobby although I have the urge to create cooking on own terms quite often and it comes to me in creative bursts in the same way. Both of these activities are like a deep meditation for me, requiring complete focus and dedication in order to execute the end product to the best of your ability and create a sense of self-reflection that you can actually share with others. This is true of any art worth mentioning. The best things in life are often not free as the cliché suggests, they require focus and sacrificing your time as well as your energy, which is a cost usually greater than money.
Because of this realization, I would suggest that the holidays are not only the time to appreciate what you already have and the power of giving to others. It is also a time to realize that the same effort that goes into the reward of the holidays, time and money, can be applied to your daily life as you ring in the new year. When you second guess the sacrifices you make to be a writer or to make others around yourself happy, think about how the world comes together to create the beauty at the end of the year and what contributed to that. Think about the actual end product of appreciating the present moment at hand.