I made fried rice for breakfast this morning. It was delicious, tangy with lime juice, lightly salty with a dash of fish sauce, full of fresh veggies and fresh coriander. A fried egg on top with a gooey bright yellow yolk topped it off to perfection.
Geez it makes me so happy, and not just because it’s scrumptious. You see, my fried rice transports me back in time.
Simple things have Superpowers
This simple dish has the power to send me right back to one special spring day, 4 years ago, into a small hut on the other side of the world.
We’d just arrived early in the morning in Krabi, Thailand. The glorious Andaman humidity oozed into our skin; the delirious heat wrapped our heads. The passing fragrances of fruits and spices soon stirred our hungry morning tummies. We stopped in a small, nameless hut set up as a little cafe.
We sat alone on bamboo chairs at worn teak tables, happy in our watermelon coloured hut. My tummy gurgled.
A young man greeted us and gave us menus. I ordered the crab fried rice like an excited child. YUM!
Kao pat bpuu, kob khun ka!
I watched on as he scurried into the kitchen close by and passed our order to the cook. That’s when I saw her – a frail, old lady, his grandma probably. She had such a warm, kind smile. My heart melted.
All of her details – her slow, rickety movements, her blue and white apron, her salt and pepper hair, her softly wrinkled golden skin, the big yawn of her blackened wok, her surprising strength as she wielded the spoon, the cone of steel and the fire – imprinted instantly in my mind. After travelling for a long while, I felt home. I felt looked after. I felt loved. Soon after, I could taste decades of expertise, pride and a grandmother’s love in something as simple as a 30b bowl of sweet and salty rice.
Now I make the same dish whenever I want to feel loved and feel cared for, and when I want to transport myself back to “Nanna Krabi” and the sticky tropical heat of that little watermelon coloured hut.
The sunrise of happiness can rise every day
Memories aren’t rigid, they shouldn’t stay frozen in time. They can be remade, over and over again! It’s only right to keep them alive. Take a minute to think back to when you were happy. When you felt curiosity and wonder. What’s coming to mind? Make the feeling rise again!
When memories are shy
If your smile-inducing memories are lost or difficult to remember, perhaps you’re trying too hard to conjure up a singular big orchestrated ‘WHOA!’ MOMENT. There’s no need for this to be big – look at me, I’ve just got a little bowl of rice!
Remembering even the faintest smell, taste, sound and sensation of a special moment can be enough to relive the joy. Even a colour can bring a flood of memories back.
If nothing comes to mind, do any of these moments trigger a memory for you?
- The sun on your skin and the mesmerising aqua colour of the water.
- The feeling of being out of breath from laughing until your sides hurt.
- The smell of coconut oil, or a roast in the middle of winter
- The taste of fresh snow or a crisp beer in a small pub.
- The sound of bird song, or roars, squeaks, thumps and howls of animals around you.
- The feeling of having your hair played with
- The feeling of freedom from your windswept cheeks and icy nose after venturing out to the stern of a ship
- The feeling of fresh air filling your lungs as you reached the top of the mountain
- The taste of the meal you made after that big day fishing or foraging
- The movement of dancing with friends from another culture
- The warmth of a tight, long hug when you desperately needed it
- The pride when you achieved that thing…..finally!
Reliving the moment
Now that you’ve got it, recreate it if it’s easy to do! If it’s more site specific or complicated, just create a little cue instead that sends you back into your happy memory. Perhaps:
- Pin a photo of the memory on your partition at work, or on your home screen on your phone.
- Create an album of your memories. Play it or flick through it, often. (I just watched a video of me trying deep fried grasshopper from the same holiday – hilarious!)
- Sit, close your eyes and mindfully manifest the feelings you had back then. Your imagination is the key to unlocking the senses that deeply touched you at the time. Being mindful of all your senses can transport you there in seconds.
- Cook the meal you had every now and again, or buy it!
- Play the music you danced to or the sounds that swirled around you.
- Buy the artwork, the professional photograph or the quintessential tchotchke from that place. Display it.
- Get back to nature. Walk outside, swim, rest, play under the trees.
- Hug, love and be loved. Connect with people who share your memories, and talk about them. Recreate the closeness.
Spring cleaning your memories
Beware the worrisome quirk in the human mind that we all need to actively discourage. Isn’t it strange that we tend to keep the negative triggers and bad memories close to the surface, easily accessible, but we don’t do the same with all the great memories that bring us joy and peace?
Why do we hold on to the bad stuff so tightly?
If you can’t find joyful memories in amongst the mundane or bad ones, you need a memory spring clean!
Be ruthless. OUT! Like a broken lamp, chuck out bad memories if they don’t serve you. Negative thoughts waste valuable brainspace. Get rid of the white noise, of the dull and hurtful things. Write them down and burn them if you want! Sad won’t get you nowhere. Sad is blocking your way. Let it go. Bring out the emotional disinfectant and freshen your perspective.
Tune in on what’s left. Hone in, I mean real close. Turn your focus inwards to a tiny, seemingly insignificant thing that was nice.
Maybe you walked in a park, shoes off, and it was sunny, and the grass was soft. That’s a thing worth focussing on!
Perhaps, you were so warm in a comfy bed, that even your toes were toasty. That’s a thing!
Perhaps someone (or even you!) gave you a beautiful compliment or a well-deserved encouragement. Those words are a thing worth reviving!
So, what’s your Fried Rice?
I’d love for you to let me know what your memory inducers are. Where are you transported to? What stirs up your joy? Let me know in the comments x
(Bugger, now I’m hungry again!)