reflections over breakfast

I have to be honest: I don’t feel a lot like writing.

Believe it or not, this happens to writers quite often. Writing is hard work, even when it’s something you love to do and have been practicing for years. It’s draining. And when you’re already drained for whatever reason, it’s like scraping the rocks in the well hoping water will come out.

We’re all tired. We’re all worn out. We’re all drained. And not just in that normal “oh life is busy” way. The last week—the last few days—have been a relentless, escalating spiral of bad news, fear, paranoia, and anger. And that’s hard to deal with. Like everyone else, I’m trying to find ways to keep myself positive and not let the isolation and the fear infect me the way this virus has infected so many others. I can count my blessings, and they are many.

I was thinking about that this morning when I prepared breakfast for myself before starting my work. It’s my second day of working from home. As a writer I don’t do a whole lot that can’t be done from home, but the organization I work for does not have a work from home policy, and even now under the crisis we’re still required to be in the office. My department is managing things on their own terms, however. So this is an unusual arrangement for me. I feel very, very fortunate that I’m allowed to work under these circumstances. I feel deeply fortunate that I am working at all, that my pay hasn’t been cut, that I still have access to healthcare and income for the foreseeable future. So, so many people I know can no longer say that.

I don’t normally make myself breakfast, or not much of one anyway. I go to the gym every morning and I don’t like a big meal weighing me down, so I have a small bowl of oatmeal or some buttered toast, and I’ll drink a protein shake after my workout. That’s enough till lunchtime. But I love breakfast, and when I’m home I take advantage of the time to make it. Today I made avocado toast. This is nothing groundbreaking. I didn’t do anything different or special. (Well, I made bacon, but that’s nothing terribly interesting either.) But it was nonetheless a really cathartic process for me. It was soothing to prepare the toast, fry the bacon, boil water for my tea, and assemble everything. With the early morning sun streaming into my living room behind me, I allowed the toast to cool and then spread it with the perfectly ripe avocado that I found at the store a few days ago. I was careful and methodical. I sprinkled it with coarse salt and ground pepper. I drizzled it lightly with my best olive oil. I chopped up half a jalapeño with far more care than I normally give to chopping anything. I let the bacon drip on a rack while I stirred sugar into my tea. I squeezed a lime over my toast to give it some kick. I looked out the window and thanked the universe for the color of the windswept sky.

Today wasn’t great. I started answering emails when I opened my eyes at 7:20, and the phone calls started before I could finish the second slice of toast. Everything annoyed me today, and nothing was easy. But for those few minutes, I made space for myself. For those few minutes this morning, I had a really enjoyable meal, and I am so grateful for what I had and still have: the opportunity to keep going. There may come a day when you can’t get fresh avocado in the store anymore. When produce is scarce, or food is rationed. But today we can still enjoy breakfast. So don’t forget to give yourself that.

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