There are few cities that can truly be described as "fairytale," leaving visitors enchanted and longing for the opportunity to return. Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland, possesses that mystic ability. It's difficult to explain, which I find to be strange given the literary history of the city (home to many great authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J.K. Rowling), but I suppose that proves the success of such a place. It is a crossroads between worlds, nestled between north and south, land and sea, stone and forest.
Perhaps it is something in the blood that beckons me to this place, the heart of an ancestral land. I have never known much of my family's history, despite multiple pleas to look into it. However, while I was in Edinburgh I was able to trace some of my heritage back to the Walker clan (famously known for its shortbread company). The Thompson part remains a mystery, as there are several families it lays claim to. Thankfully I have the good fortune to be able to return to this city with my family for Christmas, and hopefully then we will have learned more of our connection to the past in this capital that Sir Walter Scott called "Yon Empress of the North." Thus this post exists as a promise of further exploration not only of the city and my lineage, but of the rest of Scotland.
Open your mind, be brave, and be kind.
Virginia Woolf once said, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well." Of course there is the practical notion of eating to sustain the body, but food possesses a spiritual quality as well. Whether it lies on a plate, the bottom of a tub of ice cream, or nestled in your hand there is a potential to fill a void. That can be a bit of a dangerous statement, given eating disorders as well as stress eating, but food is a powerful medicine for the soul. Flavors, scents, and textures can enhance our current moments or (in a powerful way) remind us of happier times, as memories can be triggered by our senses.
There is an inherent, universal love of food, but it is often stifled by advertisements in the media, physical representation on all platforms, body and fat shaming, and the overwhelming desire for perfection. It drains us of spirit. Thus there is the need for a prescription, with a dosage that can be taken as frequently or sparingly as one desires, to remind us of ourselves and recover from the ravages of the world. In strengthening our spirits we improve the will to take care of the rest of our beings, both body and mind.
Food is love, or at least one kind of love that can be shared by all, and in filling ourselves with love we must also remember to give it to others. There are still millions of people without adequate food and/or shelter. Often they are dehumanized or made into props for some commercial to make the rest of us feel "blessed" with our situation. There is a lack of a connection with those living in poverty. If we are truly to survive as a species not only must we take care of ourselves and the planet, but ensure the survival and uplifting of those whom society have deemed unworthy of living a comfortable life.
In truth it seems like a difficult matter for some people to comprehend, especially with how television and new tend to separate the social classes. And yet, it does not take much time at all in order to help. In the summer of 2014 I worked at PROJECT SHARE, a food pantry in Carlisle PA founded and run by an alumnus of Dickinson College (my college for those of you who don't know or would care to know). While I had many duties such as tending to the greenhouse and data input, I spent my Wednesdays in the kitchen preparing meals for PROJECT SHARE's Summer Reading Program. During the summer months there are thousands of children who do not have adequate food to eat, primarily because they get their meals from the school. In the span of just a few hours, I and the lovely elderly ladies who run the kitchen managed to cook meals to feed over 100 children, sometimes a lot more.
If we all took a little more time out of our weeks, we could make a monumental difference in the lives of others. But it doesn't stop there. We as a species need to work not only within our own communities, but recognize the need to feed all around the globe. The wealthier nations should not only help the others, but assist in the uplift of their people and create a sustainable community that in turn will prosper and be able to do the same for others . There also needs to be a reformation of our current food industry. So much food from our farms and factories goes to waste (almost over 1/3 of all food produced) because it does not meet the production standards. Workers in other countries as well as the U.S. undergo horrendous working conditions and incredibly long shifts to produce what many consider to be the most menial of foods like bananas and chocolate. Sugar cane farmers in Nicaragua have been dropping dead, and after an investigation it was found that most of them are suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease due to the severe working conditions and lack of hydration. For those of us living more comfortable lives we need to reevaluate the price thousands pay for us to enjoy the foods we have. Yes it will not be easy to fix this situation, but anything worth doing is rarely easy. Take time to nurture yourself, but make certain that you do the same for others.
Open your mind, be brave, and be kind.
To See With One's Body and Soul
This blog documents all of my adventures, as well as my development into an artist, writer, and a better person.