Rice Pudding for the Soul
by John Parkin
Reading this piece will hopefully provide some comfort to you in these tough pandemic times. We all need a bit of comfort.
Very early in this crisis, as my family thought about what foods we’d need to buy that would get us through more than the next 2 days (which is how we normally shop), we were considering tins (we’d normally only buy tomato in tins as we’re a half-Italian family) and I spied a tin of Ambrosia – other brands may be available, I’ve no idea – rice pudding. I bought two tins.
My first bowl of rice pudding, back then, with strawberry jam… well, I liked it, but my first thought was “well, this isn’t much different to my daily bowl of porridge and is less healthy, so why bother?” but by the end of the scraped-clean-bowl, I had fully digested the difference.
I have since eaten a bowl of rice pudding twice a week. It has been added to my pantry of stress-relieving tools. And as someone who teaches people how to relax (often via Qigong), that pantry wasn’t previously bare. But its main shelf-fillers were (in order of what I’d turn to when feeling stressed, anxious or upset):
Walking (unlike in familiar Italy, we’ve still been able to do that here in the UK: a thousand thank yous for that)
Some Qigong swinging (Google it for instruction)
A hot bath
This added bowl of Ambrosia rice pudding has swollen my pantry by 25% (I think that’s a correct mathematical summary of the increase, even though its part in the pantry is now 20%. That’s just the kind of mental meandering that happens in lockdown, isn’t it?)
Right, let’s get to it and open the tin, and get heating it up.
We asked our ‘F**k It Family’ (ie. those who’ve been following us and our F**k It philosophy, usually for years) for their own ‘Rice Pudding for the Soul’, ie. words that would soothe them (their own or quotes).
We had a huge response. So I’ve picked some to share with you, dear KS readers, including the first names of those who shared them too.
And after the list, I’ll share the dream I’ve just woken from – and it reveals a lot about my pandemic feelings.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”
From Kim & Carmen
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…
– Anne Lamott
“The sun will carry on rising and setting whether I fail in geometry or not.”
– Anne of Green Gables
All we have is now.
“Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”
– Leonard Cohen’s Anthem
“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
– Thomas Payne, 1776
“You had the power all along, my dear.”
– Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz
For the world to be different, all that needs to change is you.
“Serenity is the strength to accept what you cannot change,
the courage to change what you can
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
– The Serenity Prayer
“Without the rain, there would be no rainbows.”
“If you realize that all things change,
there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you are not afraid of dying,
there is nothing you cannot achieve.”
– Lao Tzu
“Change is the process of all existence.”
– Mr. Spock, Star Trek
Kindness shown in any way feeds the heart and the soul whilst bringing peace to the mind.
“Whatever you are doing and however you are feeling, that is fine.
And there are plenty of other people out there feeling just the same.”
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
– John Steinbeck
All will be well ❤
“We’re all just walking each other home.”
– Ram Dass
“You can’t always get what you want…
but sometimes, you get what you need”
– The Rolling Stones
Take care of what is in your control, don’t worry about things that are beyond your reach.
“The sun is shining, the birds are singing. All’s well with Nature.”
“It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful.
But it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look.
To affect the quality of the day – that is the highest of arts.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Ahhh, you see. As soothing as rice pudding, eh?
And that last quote hits a nail on the head of my life intention: to be an artist of the ‘medium through which we look’.
I promised to end by sharing my dream. I was still having it 45 minutes ago, so it’s still fresh. I normally dislike hearing people’s dreams, as they often bear little relation to reality. I prefer a dream that is obvious and potentially impactful on reality (except, for example, this one: “I’ve just had a strong dream,”… “Oh, really, what was it?”… “I dreamt I left you.”)
In my dream, I jumped into a river, a fast-flowing river, to get somewhere. It was part floodwater too, as it was passing through streets, and I remember noting how much I liked that. As I jumped in (almost without a thought) I felt anxiety that I’d done a stupid thing. But then I saw others had done the same. They had wetsuits on, however – more anxiety that I’d freeze to death. Then I saw a couple of others without wetsuits. And off we went. Swept along with little control of direction. Making an effort to swim and change direction occasionally. But kind of enjoying it. Just sitting back. With that nagging fear that I’d be dashed on the rocks, or the others around me would disappear.
So it reveals many of my pandemic feelings: the out-of-control nature of this, the anxieties, and also the unexpected pleasure of being in the water and being swept along. But in my dream, as in life, I guess I’d ultimately prefer to be on dry land, by a fire, cradling a bowl of rice pudding with strawberry jam.
And I hope the sharing of my dream is soothing too (I read on waking that many of us are having ‘pandemic dreams’) – that we’re all struggling with this in one way or another.
About the author:
John C. Parkin is the author of Fuck It: Be at Peace with Life, Just as It Is and the F**k It books (Hay House) and is locked down with his (half-Italian) family in Hove.