📕 LivingOS Issue #119 - Welcome to the LivingOS Farmers' Market

We all want to be seen, and only then can we embrace who we are.

This metaphor is inspired by Chris Liu, and this art is designed by Eva Huang.

Modern life is packed with artificial food and flavors. These foods look attractive yet lack nutrition. They fill our stomachs yet empty our souls. Turns out, the farmers’ market is well-positioned to solve this problem. 

I still remember the first time I stumbled upon the farmers’ market in downtown Mountain View. I smelled the garlic-flavored breakfast burritos, saw piles of avocados spreading across the baskets, and was drawn towards the orange juice stand. How can I resist a freshly squeezed OJ on a sunny Sunday morning? 

Foods here did not have the best look, at least not as color-coded as those in Whole Foods. Foods here are pure, organic, and authentic. They have flaws, but they are unabashedly themselves. They are grounded, and they appeal to the softest part of our hearts: We all want to be seen, and only then can we embrace who we are. We are tired of being distracted. We had enough encounters that disappoint. We just want to see the world clearly, for once.

Of course, there’s more to the authenticity. The freshly caught salmon often carries the salty flavor of the sea. The carrots came with soils on their roots. Breathing in the lively energy, we get to feel alive again. 

Week over week, we come to trust the farmers’ market as the oasis in the nutrition desert. We bring our best friends to explore new ingredients and select foods that would nourish our family. We stop by to taste the chef’s mindful selection of cheese. We are fully taken by the festive dance of life, fully present at the moment. 

But if the farmers’ market is truly that good, why don’t we go to the farmers’ markets every week? Why do we still order groceries online or refill our inventory at Costco? Are we afraid of being too present? Are we sabotaging our own happiness? 

Perhaps there’s a better reason. Perhaps we already know what is best for our lives. I know where to find my cold-pressed juice, almond-infused cheese, and highly-marbled steak. I know how to roast vegetables and flavor my cheese. I know how to cook a warm miso soup with delicate rice. I know what is best for my life. 

Sometimes I forget to be grateful for the little things. Sometimes I forget to thank my hard work. Sometimes I forget to cherish the people who support and champion my early work. Sometimes I forget that I am as good as anyone else. Sometimes I wish to give myself more attention, love, and trust because I have all the answers already. We all do. 

We default to showing the highlight reels until we are fed up, wondering whether there’s another way. There is always another way. 

Sure, there are going to be people who want to project their insecurity upon you. They want to make you feel bad as if you can shoulder the hurt they are not willing to handle. They project that fear onto the stronger person in the room—you. 

Theodore Roosevelt said in his popular Citizenship in a Republic speech: “It is not the critic who counts. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

If you are fighting with blood and sweat in the arena, why care about those in the cheap seats who have no real stakes in the awesome person you are becoming soon? If you are playing for the long-term game, why bother those who will not stay with you until the end? 

What if we could all put down the armor and go into the world as our imperfect selves? Remember those dirty carrots and smelly salmon that made you turn around at the market, the conversations you had, the people you noticed, the colors and sights and smells of imperfection being honored and celebrated. That raw authenticity is contagious, and we have all been through that with the pandemic. We turn on cameras, reveal the messy background, and bring our work-self home. We worry about not being professional enough and end up stronger than before. We learn that raw authenticity is sexy, and we love each other for that. 

If there’s one takeaway from the joy we find in farmers’ markets, be it showing our full self because the inner glow will come out in this outer world. That’s my dream for the world, and I hope a year of LivingOS has helped you get more clarity towards your dream life.

After all, we are all dirty carrots. Dirty together.

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