Last night, Garrett cooked something new—clams, scallops, and shrimp in a white wine, tomato, and feta sauce, over rice. It was a relatively simple dish. But the moment I took my first bite, I couldn’t speak. I had to close my eyes and just experience the food. There was so much passion and love. And the simple flavors were so powerful and elevated.
It’s rare that food takes me by surprise, but this dish shocked me. Something so simple and down-to-Earth was so packed with complex flavor.
Garrett smiled at my reaction. He knows it well. Whenever we’re out to eat, if I say the food is good, that means I don’t like it much. If I say it’s interesting and start analyzing it, that means I love it. And if I can’t speak at all, that means it’s transcendent. That my Soul is waking up with each bite. And I can’t find words. I can only enjoy the food.
I don’t think I truly understood art in a real way until I started experiencing Garrett’s cooking. I’ve had the honoring of experiencing the work of a lot of culinary artists in my day. And I consider myself somewhat adept at identifying flavors.
But I’ve never had food that tastes remotely like Garrett’s. Even if a chef used the exact same ingredients and same cooking style. It wouldn’t taste the same. It couldn’t taste the same. Because art is more than technique or materials. Those are merely containers for an essence.
I can always tell when Garrett made something. Because it tastes like him. In the same way that he can immediately identify when I wrote something. There’s a certain energetic stamp—an essence—that is so clear. And, no matter what ingredients he uses, that essence always shines through.
I remember back when I was in herbal school, I told my teacher that I make my teas exactly the same as her at home, but it never tastes the same. And I asked why it doesn’t taste like hers.
And she replied, “Because it tastes like yours. It’s your energy making it.”
And I got it. In a way I hadn’t before. With true expression, true imitation is impossible. We can copy the exact same materials and techniques (like following a recipe), but it will always be more of an expression of you than of what you’re creating. Because authentic expression is simply seeing someone’s Soul. And that’s always unique.
Ultimately, that’s what subjectivity means. That everything is about me, the subject. Because it’s happening from my vantage point and through me. My writing or speaking or work is about me more than it’s about the writing or speaking or work. Those are just vehicles, containers, for me to see more of myself.
And, when I’m experiencing art, or eating Garrett’s amazing simple dish, that’s about me too. It’s about my experience. My Soul awakening. And maybe another wouldn’t taste exactly what I taste. But the experience is subjectively mine. It’s about who I am.
And every moment of my life is subjective—it teaches me more about who I am than anything else.
We’re on a never-ending journey to learn ourselves. And, through the lens of ourselves, to learn about the Universe. About the Oneness.
That’s subjectivity. That’s the awakening that art facilitates. Holding containers so that that essence can shine forth.
And those are maybe the most humbling moments of all. When we see a beautiful sunset. Or look into our partner’s eyes. Or enjoy a wonderful piece of writing. Or take a bite of food and cannot speak.
Because we are experiencing ourselves, our Souls. We are experiencing Divinity through our own subjective experience.
We learn ourselves. And we learn the Universe. Through the art that we experience. The essence of it all.