When my mother was dying, through the short and terrifying few weeks of dying, all she wanted to do was go home. See her cat, say goodbye to her friends, to her life. She left her flat thinking she would be home again in the morning, so many loose threads of her daily existence left hanging. The wealth and power of an entire nation could have been laid at her feet in those moments and it wouldn't have meant anything. Nothing could ease the excruciating pain long enough to allow for her to go home.
I thought of that when I was cooking my lunch, a new ritual I have enforced on myself. Picking the herbs, the edible flowers, chopping and simmering and playing with flavours and textures. I shaved parmesan and crushed garlic and wished to the gods I had had the foresight to stock the pantry with a light and fruity bottle of wine as well. I made do with water, but I can understand the French point of view a little better as I get older. Great food is made better with good wine.
I almost felt ashamed of myself, thinking of my friends and family working or at school, all those without the privilege of their own homes, without the luxury of space for a garden. I felt spoiled and self-indulgent. And then I remembered my mother, who had very little but to whom that little meant so much, and I changed my mind. I am enormously, enormously privileged, yes, and I am so grateful for that. But taking the time to enjoy what I have, to wander through a lunchtime slowly and sensually, is not selfishness but a manifestation of that gratitude. It's an act of thankfulness. And I hope, one day, when I am old (please God) and made aware that the rest of my life will be measured in days, or hours, or minutes, I won't be wishing I had taken more time to appreciate what I had when I had it. I will have spent a good deal of my life already doing that.