A few years ago I went to talk to a therapist. I had some issues I wanted help dealing with and I wanted to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. The conversations always ended up in the same place. I love food. I love cooking. I love talking to people about eating right and how to feel better. I always answered her the same way, "The food industry? No way! Here are 1,000 reasons everyone has told me it's not possible." I clung to those reasons dearly. They were the perfect way to keep comfortable and stagnant. I stuck those negative excuses in my path and refused to budge as the river of life rushed past me. I've never worked in the food industry. I've got no formal training. I can't afford the $50K+ tuition at cooking school. Who needs that anyways!? Restaurants ALWAYS fail. Can't have a restaurant. Catering is a BITCH. No way, Jose!
The funny thing about life, though, is that it has a way of wearing you down until you finally relent to go in the path you are supposed to be on. Bit by bit, the life wore at me like a branch that was stuck firmly in a riverbed. Pushing me and tugging at me until one day, everything collided and in a moment of clarity my roots came up and I said, "This is it. This is what we are doing!" and all hope at another cause was lost. Life handed us some big lemons and we had to cry about it or make lemonade. There was a lot of fear involved with deciding to start Bite Me Kitchen as an actual business. Neither of us know what the heck we're doing! But we're building it from scratch and learning as we go, just the way we craft our food.
A few days after making the decision to start Bite Me Kitchen, an old friend died in a skydiving accident. Years had gone by since I quit skydiving and since I had spoken to Jonathan, but like anyone who ever met him, he made a big impact. Jonathan died doing what he truly loved and what he was put on this earth to do. I met Jonathan when he was just getting into "swooping" - a pretty dangerous and fast part of canopy piloting. Everyone at the dropzone told Jonathan he was too fast and too new and too reckless and on and on. Jonathan said that he would be the best one day. Everyone would laugh and he would still try to hang out with the guys who were sponsored. But Jonathan wasn't joking around and he wasn't deterred by anyone's opinion. He dedicated himself to his sport and he became better and better. Then, he began to win competitions. He eventually left his regular job to travel the world - skydiving, competing, coaching, and inspiring thousands of people. His smile lit a spark in everyone he met, and his passion for what he loved to do burned bright. I always thought of Jonathan's journey, and how far he'd come against the odds. He truly did become the best canopy pilot in the world. His loss rocked me. It was if I couldn't hide anymore. Who am I to not be what I am supposed to be? Who am I to act like life is endless and my time is guaranteed? Who am I to ignore my path? Who am I that I would listen to people say that I cannot do something when I know damn well I can?
|Jonathan (photo by Trond R. Teigen)|
In the days that came after Jonathan's passing, I used his life as a lantern in the dark. I placed one uncertain foot in front of another, determined to make something change. I told myself that it is the duty of the living to honor those who have passed before us by continuing their work - to inspire, to be passionate, to be fully alive, to appreciate our time, to not waste a day, to be authentic and honest, to pursue life and to aid others.
|Matty in Newport|
This month, I lost another friend, this time to cancer. His life was far too short. A friend of his wrote a beautiful eulogy that described Matty as being "rejected by our time...He belonged to a different time. A time of lore. A time that may have never existed." And it's true. He was a wanderer, a free spirit and an artist. He didn't quite belong anywhere, but everywhere he went, he made friends. He was hands down one of the kindest people I've met and he always had the time to stop and spend with anyone who needed to talk. My way of honoring his legacy will be to take more time with people, to be kind, and to be free.
Time is the only currency that matters, and it is spent endlessly. Make every moment count. Don't waste time doing what you don't like to do now, banking on a future you may not ever get a chance to have. Do what you want now. The world needs more inspired people! Find out what you're good at. Work through the uncertainty. Let life tumble you around a bit. Figure it out. Fail. Grow. Diamonds are just rocks that have been tumbled and cut enough times to shine.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Maryanne Williamson