31 March, 2021

[Doc Diaries] The Big Leagues

Imagine striving to follow a compass as far North as you can make it. Every line of latitude feels like a milestone. A hallmark.

Sure, there are setbacks — sometimes geography will force you to traverse sideways before you can keep moving forward. Sometimes, you'll even have to turn back and find a different route. But the progress is definite. And with each new milestone, the clarity of your purpose intensifies.

An irony, that also intensifies, is that the closer you get to the goal, the less your compass actually guides you. Sometimes it wavers and falters in ways that never happened farther back. And once you actually Make It, the direction it points to is… anywhere else. Just not here.

So do you stop, or do you keep moving? And if you move, how can you possibly judge and evaluate your sense of progress? Was finding the North Pole worth it in the first place? Was the compass really guiding you in a direction that mattered? How would life have been different if you had travelled due East? Or West?

What if the compass was meaningless all along?

28 February, 2021

Opportunity and Cost: An Anniversary

I am still me.

It feels weird to say that. Or rather, it feels weird to have doubted that. But I guess that's what this past year has been: doubts about assumptions that used to come naturally.

Let's rewind: 1 year and 1 week ago, I strained my hamstring at pole vault practice. Again. And I decided it was time for a change. Two days later, I sat down at a friend's table with a box of tissues and wrote "Leaving Love Behind." A few days later, I sketched out some ideas in my composition book, went to the photo studio, and took a self-portrait that felt like it fit the gravity of that moment.

I wrote at the time that "I don't really know what the future will hold," but I figured that I would figure things out in time. There's no way I could have imagined the changes that were in store, for all of us, but I was dedicated to making the best of an unfamiliar situation, and I'm pretty happy with how the last year has gone.

07 February, 2021

Double-Take: When NASCAR felt like home again

Imagine exploring an unfamiliar environment. Everything seems new and unexpected, even if you feel twinges of familiarity here and there. But there's this feeling of shock and confusion that happens when you round one more unfamiliar corner, only to realize that you suddenly recognize your surroundings. That all this time, you've actually been closer to home than seemed possible, just moments prior.

That was NASCAR, for me.

Now don't get me wrong; I've watched plenty of NASCAR over the years, and there've definitely been times when the whole thing had felt like it made sense.

But stereotypes have a way of pulling you away from the things you used to enjoy. In part because they're just pernicious like that, but also because they often have a kernel of truth, and sometimes it makes you worry…

But when the Toyota / Save Mart 350 rolled around in June of 2014, I finally had a chance to look back and recapture some of those feelings I thought I had left behind.

31 December, 2020

Spirit of the Wok (Annie — People Making Cool Stuff)

"To me, the sounds of a wok are very… very homey? They may or may not be pleasant, objectively… But the sound of, like, when the steel hits steel? Like, when you're moving things around… And you know, when you bang on it sometimes to get things off the spatula?

"It all just goes with the… kind of the spirit of the wok, y'know?"

Some things are difficult to put into words. And in the times I've been fortunate enough to watch my friend Annie cook, what's stood out for me have been the clarity of her intentions, the creativity of her choices, the pride in her craft, and other traits that speak of the soul of cooking, in a way that words don't always reach.