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I’m dealing with looming deadlines, controlled variables and a chapter in this life’s book that feels like a penitentiary. Everyone has their way of dealing with living out nightmares. Mine is in the kitchen. The mission: Pumpkin Risotto with slivered almonds.

The very definition of meditation is focusing on a task so the rest of the mind can assess itself. I take the pumpkin off the porch, cut it open, seed it and dump the shredded meat into blender filled with lamb stock, thyme and fresh garlic. Then I season three slabs of lamb and put them in the oven to broil. I roast the seeds in the top oven for snacking.

As I stand there, going through a recipe committed to memory and sipping on the champagne remaining from what I used in the dish, ITunes gives me a soundtrack that flips from Biggie to Loose Ends to Sarah McLachlan. In the process I forget about my fears and frustrations and the ghosts that hover just above my head. I am made anew less than an hour later, with the completion of the goal.

That was the point of the exercise.