On Friday night, my boyfriend and I made coconut milk, from scratch, in our kitchen with its beautiful view. In many ways, this moment was exactly what I’d been craving for the last few months: having a home of my own, hanging out with this wonderful person, being domestic, eating fresh homemade food, laughing in the kitchen and listening to good music.
At the same time, I think it was an important lesson for me in getting what you want. A friend once reminded me that a year living abroad somewhere fabulous and exotic is still just a year of your life, and I believe that to be absolutely true. Any adventure is still full of ups and downs, and plenty of moments when you’re stuck in your head and your back is aching and you can’t figure out why you feel so tired all the time.
This recent Ecuadorean adventure has already been so wonderful. I have more love in my life, our space makes me feel peaceful and calm, and I feel supported by an awesome human being. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean my anxiety about the future has disappeared like I so hoped it would, or that I’ve stopped comparing myself to others, or that I don’t almost always feel like I should be doing something more, creating something beautiful, or making something better. In other words: wherever you go, there you and all your anxieties are.
I’m constantly trying to learn how to live a good, rich and satisfying life. So far I know that having such a life means writing your own story (not comparing yourself to others), doing the work that fills you up (not the work that makes the most money or that makes your family the happiest), and cultivating relationships that bring you joy and a chance for personal growth. I’ve learned that it means trying to bring more peace, stillness and fulfillment into every decision and interaction in your life. I know it means getting vulnerable, staying present, practicing gratitude, and working to create beautiful things.
It doesn’t mean that everything will always be easy all the time. It doesn’t mean that you’ll always remember that in this moment, nothing is actually wrong. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever get worried, or doubt yourself, or feel panicked or confused sometimes. It just means you have to do the work to try and space those moments further apart, and do your best to bounce back from them more quickly.
So what does this have to do with coconut milk?
Well, like the pursuit to live your best and most beautiful life, making homemade coconut milk is a true labour of love. You have to lug home some heavy coconuts that will dance around in the trunk of your car. You have to split them open using your hands, a knife and a lot of grit. You have to make a mess. You have to use a butter knife, or a screwdriver, or your fingernails to prise the coconut meat away from its skin. You have to chop it up finely, add the coconut water and some boiling water and overheat your blender by running it for five or more minutes. Then you have to squeeze and strain the pulp by hand until you get your milk.
Also, it takes forever.
But, just like the journey to becoming a better and happier human being, the results are totally worth it. Homemade coconut milk, it turns out, is absolutely gorgeous. It’s so creamy it coats the glass, it tastes exactly like fresh coconuts (duh), and it goes well with everything. So far we’ve drunk it straight, mixed it with granola, added it to morning smoothies, and frozen it into ice cubes to save for later. If you’d like to try making your own coconut milk, we followed this recipe to excellent results.
As I write this, I’m drinking a glass of our coconut milk, looking out the window and feeling at peace. The writing always helps. Why do I always forget that the writing always helps? New situations are almost always scary and exciting, beautiful and challenging, tiring and invigorating, peaceful and mildly chaotic. It can be stressful to find your groove again, to create a new routine, and to stay humble and aware and grateful amidst all of the change. But then again, that’s our beautiful lifelong labour of love and we are really very lucky to be living it.