Letting Go and a Cranberry Ginger Frosty
This holiday season I’m giving myself a present. It’s the homespun sort, DIY if you will, laboriously crafted with love and guaranteed to please–the gift of letting go. If I waver, I’ll look to my favorite Zen story (as told by Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth) for inspiration:
Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side. The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn’t restrain himself any longer. “Why did you carry that girl across the road?” he asked. “We monks are not supposed to do things like that.” “I put the woman down hours ago,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”
Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side.
The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn’t restrain himself any longer. “Why did you carry that girl across the road?” he asked. “We monks are not supposed to do things like that.”
“I put the woman down hours ago,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”
I’ve carried a lot of women over the years, some a very long way. My burdensome women have come in all shapes and sizes: late birthday cards, bourbon infused indiscretions, broken hearts and friendships, hurtful things I’ve said and heard, loving words left unspoken. A single incident can loop in my thoughts for days, weeks, even longer. Intellectually I know it’s futile, a waste of time and energy. Not one to harbor regrets, my mental review of what went down, what I got wrong, what I should have, could have done or said, isn’t about undoing what can’t be undone; it’s about understanding and learning from my mistakes.
The letting go can come with a long run, a good night’s sleep, or maybe an evening spent with my girlfriends drinking cranberry ginger frosties. I’ve put the woman down on my yoga mat. I’ve left her in the pages of my journal. Sometimes I can put her down once and for all. Other times I put her down and return for her a year later when the scab is unexpectedly torn from my wound.
The letting go can be abrupt like popping a joint back into place. After listening too long to the voices in my head, simply listening to my own voice as I tell it aloud is enough to shake her loose. The letting go can be slow and tedious too, happening so slowly and gradually that I can’t be certain where or when I put the woman down.
I turn to Greg for help with the big, clingy women. I don’t expect him to have the answers though sometimes he does. Instead, I just need to hear that I’m okay, that I’m not broken, and that I’m still lovable. Greg always knows when I need to be reminded of the two monks, “You’re still carrying her aren’t you?” Sometimes the pain or shame runs too deep, and I simply cannot put her down, not yet.
This holiday season I’m letting go and unloading my harem once and maybe for all. I’m going to put the woman in a stocking or under the tree. I’ll bake her into a hundred cookies. I’ll string her up in tiny white twinkle lights. I’ll wrap her up in shiny paper tied up with a red velvet bow. I’ll bury her in a pile of fresh, sparkling snow; stir her into a boozy glass of eggnog; or stuff her into a Christmas card and drop her in the mail. I will put the woman down even if it’s only for the holidays, because I can’t think of a better present to give myself this season or any.
Cranberry Ginger Frosty
Inspired by a recipe for Cranberry Whiskey Sours in Cooking Light Magazine and my love for all things cranberry, this cocktail is guaranteed to put a little “ho ho ho” in your step.
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups fresh cranberries (2 12-ounce bags)
2 cups 80-proof bourbon
juice from 2 fresh limes
- Bring water, sugar, and ginger to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir frequently until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Combine ginger syrup, salt, and cranberries in a blender or food processor; process until smooth and no cranberry or ginger pieces remain. Strain mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a bowl; press mixture to extract liquid. Discard solids. (You can skip this step. The resulting frozen concoction will be less icy and more deeply flavored, but you’ll have to pick the occasional cranberry seed from your teeth.)
- Combine cranberry mixture, bourbon, and lime juice in a freezer-safe bowl. Freeze mixture overnight or until partially frozen.
- Scrape mixture with a fork until slushy. Spoon into a glass, top with ginger ale and stir to mix. Serve immediately.