What do you do with that big restless pain of being alive? That is more than lonely or tired or just plain stressed? That doesn’t disappear with a quick fix or a pot of money?
I don’t know.
I do know that whatever it is, we swim up and out of it eventually. That those rough crunchy moments are always next door to sweet and calm ones, if you can only wait a little.
I know that miraculously, however sad and pathetic you might be feeling, there are some things that provide relief, and not just noise.
It’s best not to forget, exactly. Not to shout down the empty space. Go into it, listen a little, and then carry on again.
1. Tidy your desk. Post a letter. Do something that doesn’t take long, that you have been putting off. Then continue the existential despair with the secret satisfaction of not being completely useless.
2. Look up at the sky for five minutes. Time it. Don’t check your phone or glance at the pavement.
3. Take a scalding hot bath.
4. Make soup, preferably for someone else. Cook with care and dreamy slowness. Chop onions and roast peppers and drink deep.
Red pepper and almond soup
(imagined from a version at Bill’s Cafe @ All Saints)
serves 3-4, just about – make more if hungry!
2 large red peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 kg tomato puree / tinned tomatoes
500ml veg stock / water and stock cube
150g ground almonds (or hazelnuts are good too)
1/2 tsp rice vinegar (use cider or sherry vinegar for a milder taste)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
Roast the peppers whole in a hot hot oven for half an hour, or until they collapse, skin blackened.
Toast the nuts on a baking sheet at the same time – just a few minutes until golden but not brown.
Chop the onion and garlic and fry in a large saucepan with olive oil. When translucent, add tomato puree and water/stock. Leave to simmer until pepper has roasted.
Remove stalks and seeds from the peppers (don’t burnt your fingers!) and add to pot. Tip in nuts too. Blend carefully (hot) then stir in sugar, vinegar and seasonings. Taste to check.