The Long Form - Time and Tomatoes
Three whole weeks without internet access and temperamental electricity. No checking emails for a minute, catching up on the news or looking up wiki answers to random questions. Slow simmering summer days with nothing to do but forget the concept of time and spend an afternoon reading a great page-turner or playing a low-stakes board game. Preparing simple dinners that inevitably lead to conversations that extend well past midnight. Re-watching 'Before Sunrise' and concluding yet again that it is a perfect movie. Realizing after a few days you can’t remember the last time you checked your phone and frankly when you last saw it. You’re are at peace with the fact that you may have lost your phone and with it your entire former life. Namaste.
This break has marked the first time I have been truly internet free for a long stretch. No pretend tech-free holiday where you carry your phone but tell yourself you won’t check it. Lies. A few days in, I noticed that my mind was Marie Kondo level free of clutter and I was able to well and truly think about issues personal and professional. Do the hard work of seeing a problem through from beginning to end without the safety valve of the internet. Ideas had the luxury of sitting on a back burner for days as solutions slowly revealed themselves.
This reinvigorating reprieve makes me wonder if it’s possible to approximate this level of clarity in our constant-hustle lives, even as simultaneously feel my Zen evaporating. Sadly this is unlikely, but there may be room for compromise. A scientist at heart, this fall I will be experimenting with weekend connectivity cleanses and will be reporting back. The good, the bad and the ugly of this social experiment.
After all that I returned to reams of emails, most well past their sell-by date and readily ignored. What could not be denied was the mass influx of tomato-based recipes forwarded by friends and acquaintances. All the recipes: raw tomato pasta sauce, mouth-watering galettes, and innumerable variations of the Spanish classic Pan con Tomate. It is peak season and this year we have been gripped by severe case of Tomato Fever.
We are not the only ones who’ve noted the ferocity of our current obsession. Amanda Mull writes that “maybe this tomato season has turned into Tomato Season because everything else can seem so intolerable”. White supremacy is on the rise, the Amazon is burning and every day brings a new onslaught of terrible but as Mull rightly comments “tomatoes are proof that the world still works in some capacity, at least for now. A tomato with a slick of mayonnaise on soft white bread won’t solve anything, but for the next few weeks, it will taste great. Of course it will. It’s tomato season.”
So the small lesson here is that sometimes the only truly sane thing to do is to lose your phone, misplace your laptop, amble your way to a farmer’s market and embrace the bounty of the season.