On Tuesday I had an extraordinarily pleasant time chopping parsley.
It was 3pm, and I felt like it was a good time for an afternoon snack. I had done a 4 hour triathlon workout that morning, 54 miles on the bike and 6 miles running, so I was quite hungry again and needed some caloric replenishment.
Ashley bought a bundle of parsley for some vegan meatballs she was going to make, but ended up using a different recipe. So the parsley sat on the counter, in a mason jar half-filled with water, for over a week now.
I knew I couldn't let it go to waste, it's a pet peeve to let food go to waste. Then it came to me... Tabbouleh!
I had a fresh tomato in the fridge, left over from a salsa that I made earlier in the week. I had decided to be adventurous and make a Sayulita-inspired green salsa with roasted anaheim chili peppers instead of a standard pico de gallo salsa. There was some celery in the fridge, which could take the place of the cucumber. And I had a lemon! The excitement was building.
The dish would need some quinoa - calories and protein - to make it a good post-workout recovery food in addition to being a delicious mid-afternoon treat. And if I'm going through the trouble, why not cook some quinoa in bulk and have some leftover for the rest of the week. So I rinsed 1 cup of raw quinoa and then threw it on the stove to cook.
With the quinoa cooking, it was now time to tend to the parsley. If there is an easy way to de-stem the parsley leaves, I'm unaware. In that moment, I also didn't care. There was no rush I was in, so I plucked the parsley leaves from the stems, one by one, until the bundle was a pile of leaves.
I had some music playing in the background. Bluegrass music. Maybe Greensky Bluegrass. Maybe Trampled by Turtles. I can't remember. The afternoon sun shined bright through our big southwest facing kitchen window, our indoor plants getting their afternoon nourishment as well.
I went slowly as I chopped the parsley, in order to not chop a finger off. My clawed left hand held the parsley in place, with fingers curled over hiding from the blade. My right hand held the knife, and with slow and steady movements lifted up and down from the back of the blade, trying not to lift the nose of the blade off the cutting board. There was a satisfying crunch under the blade with every chop.
After a few back-and-forths, my clawed hand took position on top of the blade for some speed chopping. A few rogue parsley leaves went flying off the board, and I would collect them and add them back to the bunch.
I let the quinoa cool off, while I chopped the tomato and celery. With the parsley, tomato and celery in a bowl, I added some fresh squeezed lemon, salt, and some olive oil. The quinoa needed more time to cool, so I cleaned up a bit. I finally added the quinoa, along with some more fresh squeezed lemon and olive oil, and mixed it all up.
It was delicious! Was it as good as Open Sesame's tabbouleh salad? Maybe, maybe not. I love tabbouleh.
Chopping vegetables and herbs puts me in a flow state. It's one of my favorite parts of cooking. What a great thing, to love cooking. It's far cheaper and healthier than eating out, but to also enjoy the process is a gift. Seth Godin had a good quote in his daily newsletter a few weeks back, something like, "If you don't have time to clean the kitchen, you don't have time to cook." I don't mind the cleaning much either.
I'm grateful for being able to spontaneously chop parsley on a random Tuesday afternoon. I'm rarely in a rush. I'm rarely stressed. I'm rarely scrambling, trying to fit more into my workday. I'm rarely trying to be productive just for productivity's sake.
There are few things less "productive" that one could be doing at 3pm on a weekday, than plucking and chopping parsley. I thoroughly enjoyed every unproductive second of it.
And doing a 4 hour endurance workout earlier that day. And surfing from 10-11am the day before. And playing that song on my guitar, or reading a few pages out of my book, or watching those heats of the current surfing competition..
Of course, I have busy days every now and again. I feel pressure and stress from my job, and I want to perform well. And I love actually being productive too. I love getting shit done, and chasing big goals. I'd like to think that I'm incredibly good at getting shit done. If you know me, you know this to be true.
But I'm learning to love the little, in-between moments too. I used to say, the quality of my life is correlated to the darkness of my skin. The more time outside with my shirt off, the happier I probably am. I still believe that, and I also believe that the good life is being able to chop parsley for an hour on a weekday afternoon.
I used to feel a bit guilty about a mid-day nap, or to spend 2 hours writing a pointless blog post (right now lol) during the better part of the work day. A part of my brain would say, "shouldn't you be working right now?" But why? How much is enough work, and who decided it's 40 hours in a week? It's an ongoing process learning to be okay with being unproductive sometimes.
I don't have a gratitude journal, but if I did, this would be today's entry: I'm very grateful for the freedom that I have. I'm grateful that I work from home. I love my job, and I'm grateful for being able to make a living and impact people in a positive way, while also having the freedom to chop parsley for an hour at 3pm on a random Tuesday.
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