What is life but to live with constant growth and learning? And what is toast if not something that is constant and versatile? Wise words that we hear continuously, well, maybe occasionally. Life is all about growth, so I’ve heard; but how does that turn into the quest of bettering and more bettering and even more bettering and some more fixing and some soul searching and well, you get the gist.
The pandemic was surprisingly great for my logical brain, which (at that very opportune moment) decided was the right time to find all my flaws and fix them, because there is no better time than the present. Plus, it was only supposed to last for a couple of months, and I was going to emerge as a shiny new butterfly. (expect a plot twist!)
For someone who is obsessed with being a better version of myself, I can tell you that my plan backfired. Was I getting better or crawling down a rabbit hole into a new futuristic version? I lost sight of what I was working on or even what I was working towards. I further felt lost trying to fix everything that I thought was wrong with me, as well as the intense scrutinised data I collected from everyone who would make eye contact with me. With all that productive fixing, I should have been shiny by now.
However, all that fixing aside, I didn’t give myself enough space to actually experience my better version that I had jumped to create. This slowly snowballed into what we’ll call chaos. Logic, that trusty friend that once helped me make sense of things, now started looking a lot like a wobbly snowman. Things just stopped feeling real while I tried finding meaning in my head. I was stuck in a constant loop of philosophy books and self-help quotes, which turned into a life of continuously trying to find meaning, purpose and true-r self.
It almost became like a chase to achieve … air. Here’s the kicker; I’ve never known what achievement meant for me, not just during the pandemic, but also in life. I’m not a hard person to please, yet I’m driven to please others. It does get difficult to pause and take a breath to appreciate not only what I have, but also how far I’ve come.
Are you a person (like me) who looks at growth as somewhere you’ve got to be or how far you’ve come? Because truth be told, I was trying to do both at the same time and unfortunately forgot that I was in neither of those spaces. I was in the now.
I was flustered with the chaos of growth and bettering of my life. I felt as burnt out chasing my tail, and ended up falling into the now. What does that look like for me, you ask?
It’s being forced to take a breath and actually start living. That means fewer self-appraisals, more going outside to walk the dog, talking to friends, cooking, reading, etc!
“Continually looking for the meaning of life is like looking for the meaning of toast. Sometimes, it’s better just to eat the toast.” writes Matt Haig. So that’s exactly what happened. I learnt how to eat (and enjoy) toast. But this didn’t happen willingly. I started by not making eye contact with the bread, because if I ignored it or acted like it didn't exist, then hopefully it would just cease to do so. Then I gravitated to acknowledging that there is bread, and how it would be so much better if it were warm and toasty (I actually love toast). Figuring out how to toast this bread through different methods was a task, sometimes burning it; unfortunately having to smell the charred parts, while also making uncomfortably extended eye contact with it. But just like that, without realising it and without the hunt for the finest baguette, I experienced and learnt how to make different versions of toast. (if you didn’t get it by now, I’m trying to make bread/toast into a metaphor for my life with the failures and learning in the past couple of years).
There is nothing wrong with wanting the fanciest of breads. In fact, there is nothing wrong with wanting or working towards even the bougie-st of toasts with the best toppings. But in all that chaos of chasing the best of the best, we sometimes forget that most kinds of breads usually have the same ingredients. We chase better cause we think we want better. But we forget that we have all the ingredients. We just need to find our way of mixing the dough and knowing how toasty we like our bread.
I don’t see myself as extraordinary; infact, I never wanted to be extraordinary. But still, I found myself chasing things that I didn’t really want (or added value to my life). I’m still learning and growing and experiencing what’s out there (keeping both bread and my life in mind) but it’s no longer a chase. I find myself being comfortable with the mundane… or dare I say, the mediocre. And here’s the thing. I love toast, especially toast that’s made with the most basic of white bread. At times, I occasionally switch up the bread, and try different toppings.
But with all the thirst for bread, it is important to remind myself to appreciate the dough and the effort made to make the toast. After all, what is toast if you don’t eat it?
So why not try and just eat the toast!