I was just sitting at the breakfast table this morning, contemplating and thinking back about life 10 years ago.
Back when I was still a freshman at university, with eyes bright and hopeful, greedy and alive for the future that seemed so far away.
If you were to hint to me then, then I would later move out of Singapore, my homeland, to live some place else, I might have laughed in your face. At that moment of life, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – Singapore was home for me, it was where all my family and friends were; it was where I’d imagined graduating and then working in a bank for years to come, making plenty of banker money.
If you were to tell me back then, that I would later relocate half-way across the globe, and settle for a few years in the South American continent, and more specifically in Buenos Aires, which was known for many decades as the “Paris of South America”, I would have really scoffed in your face.
First up, because my little ignorant mind couldn’t exactly locate Argentina on the map back then, and then because I’d never thought of picking up Spanish – I mean, French, Italian, German, definitely. Spanish somehow didn’t even register, even though I fell easily for romantic Spanish songs and found salsa dancing very sensual to look at.
And, dear friend, if you were to say it in my face 10 years ago and assure me that yes, I would later eventually move to Argentina, not even for work, but for love, I think I might have just fallen out of my chair from complete shock, surprise and unbelief.
I’d been raised in a practical family and shaped by an extremely pragmatic society – and re-location for love seemed like such an idealistic, dreamy notion that would have been frowned upon and result in plenty of eyebrows being raised.
But as always, life’s an adventure whose twists and turns we very often cannot predict.
And lo and behold, 1o years later, here I am, my fourth year living in Buenos Aires, speaking and thinking in Spanish almost as fluently as if I’d been born in Argentina, living in the same country with Juan, the one I moved out of Singapore for.
People I first meet also wonder what I’m doing here in Argentina, and when I tell them my tale, they either look surprised or smile so wide, because it’s the sort of story that either baffles you or inspires you. Mostly, people tell me it’s an incredible journey, and they applaud me for my bravery, in uprooting myself from a stable economy where all my loved ones live and starting from scratch, with friends, with language, with everything.
I think.. That’s the power of love.
Love has the incredible ability to make you do things you’d normally not do because of practicality. Love makes you travel distances to be with the person who makes your heart flutter and your pulse beat. When you’re in love, everything seems possible – long-distance relationships; inter-cultural differences, bring it on! – these are just small obstacles easily jumped over.
But being in love in not the same as loving the other person.
Being in love has wonderful power, but loving someone else (with not just your heart but also with your mind) – makes you choose the same person over and over again, day after day, even when things aren’t cotton-candy perfect.
When I think back on Sara’s story about the almost 70-year old man who approached her at the supermarket to buy his wife’s self-published cookbook, and who handed her the link to the online version on the back of a deposit slip – I’m inspired by the love that he shows in the act of supporting his wife’s ambitions.
When I see a young, healthy woman caring for her wheelchair bound husband, whom she’d married even after his accident, leaving him unable to care for himself, I know that is true love.
When I look at Juan and see him doing small tasks like cleaning the stove or doing the laundry because he knows how much I hate doing so; or him searching for jobs overseas because he knows how much I feel the need to be closer to Singapore – I know it’s love.
But more than that, it’s seeing the imperfections of the other person, and still choosing to love him or her over and over again, despite their flaws, the fights, and the differences.
It’s learning to give more than you take; to stop trying to win arguments but attempting to see the other person’s point of view – that’s what’s true love to me.
In a week or so it’ll be Valentine’s day – and I know how hard this season is for those like my dear blogging friend who recently had a break up after seven years with her partner. There are so many others who are also divorced and separated and this season is like a big cruel joke to them.
For me, love should be year-round, not just on the 14 of February.
And so, let’s strive to love – not just our partners, or lovers, but also friends and families, and those who might need a bit of love this season, shall we?
I wish you love.
GRAIN-FREE CHERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES (Makes 2 dozen medium-sized cookies)
Adapted from: Paleo Spirit
1) 1 cup coconut flour
2) 3/4 cup tapioca flour (or more depending on how wet or dry the flour is)
3) 1/2 cup coconut oil or ghee or butter (about 120g)
4) 2 tablespoons raw honey
5) 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6) 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
7) 1 cup of diced dried cherries
8) dash of fine ground sea salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
1) Preheat an oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit (180 deg cel).
2) Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well (or in a food processor and pulse a few times) to make sure everything is evenly distributed. (If mixture is still too liquid and wet to roll out, then add a tablespoon of extra tapioca flour at at time, until it’s sufficiently dry to manage but still moist.)
3) Turn the dough out onto a large piece of parchment or wax paper sprinkled with tapioca flour (note that the dough will be very crumbly.) If necessary add sprinkle a bit more tapioca flour.
4) Press the dough together to make a solid piece. Use your hands and a tapioca-flour covered rolling pin to roll the dough out to a flat disk, approximately 8 inches by 10 inches and about 1/8 inch thick.
5) Use cooking cutter of desired shape (hearts! stars! whatever you like!) and cut out cookies
6) Place on cookie sheet (which has been lined with either silpat or baking paper)
7) Bake cookies for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top, then move them to wire rack once they have cooled
P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m trying to eliminate wheat from my life, I strongly recommend Wheat Belly – a book that will empower you and make you determined to get rid of wheat and it’s terrible health effects!