Family reunion time, 7 adults and 6 kids. How to make “Welcome to Portland” meal? Ah the old standby of Porchetta – this time delivered via a massive 13 pound bone-in rib roast that includes 15+ pork chops in it, plus a bunch of tenderloins to boot. So big that the grill was the only option. And with such extravagance, I could finally justify the purchase of that $55 bag of fennel pollen I’ve been lusting after for two years. Sheridan’s even keeps it behind locked doors to enhance the mystique. Add in grilled asparagus, mini potatoes roasted in the drippings, some heirloom caprese salads.. Ah, a treat befitting to the company!

Porchetta Beginnings

With such a weighty hunk of meat (largest I’ve ever made) my thought of the day is on nouns versus verbs, continuing the discussion on the nature of identity.

Secret Ingredient: the fennel pollen, of course

Music accompaniment: Lenka, of course

Fennel Pollen

Now to life as a verb: We think of life and identity as nouns. Something to be achieved or possessed. As if they exist in the absence of action, weighty concepts similar to the hunk of meat on my grill right now.

But my love of cooking is not the food but the act of making it. My love of life is the chase, not the kill. So why do I fall into the trap to define both life and identity as nouns?

Spreading the Herbs

Sean Carroll wrote “Life is not a substance, like water or rock; it’s a process, like fire or a wave crashing on a shore. It’s a process that begins, lasts for a while, then ultimately ends.” Much better! By a process, it is as close to action as you can get and still satisfy grammatical requirements to be a noun.

Extend this to identity.. Our identity is a process, our bodies are mere substance by which we act. Identity is the imparting of change, not the change itself, which are just the wake behind us. We think that substance trumps action – we want to preserve our legacies with towers with our names on them, but action far exceeds substance when it comes to impacting the world.

Ready to Roast

Muriel Rukeyser wrote “The Universe is made of stories, not atoms.” Again, stories are verbs, atoms are nouns. Existence opens, says Lao Tzu.

Life is a river flowing, identity is the oar in the water doing our best to exert some semblance of direction (certainly not the fallacy of control) in its varied currents, steeped in punctuated equilibrium.

Existence Opens