Once upon a time, I made my own bread.
Not out of any type of arrogance. Not to hold it over anyone’s head or to feel the need to be superior to people I no longer know for reasons I can no longer fathom. It was more important for me to lose myself in the details of recipes and the attention that needs to be paid in the development in making a starter; it is, after all, a living, breathing thing. It may be a small thing, but to me it was quite significant. I made life. I made my own bread because it was the next logical step from making my own pizza dough. I made my own bread to see if I could do it; to satisfy a need…
…To follow in the footsteps of the masters who came before me.
…To fill a void left after I stopped smoking.
…To prepare for the frickin’ zombie apocalypse. Whichever superficial reason I may have spun would have danced around the truth. At the end of the day, my real motivation was simply to find a way out.
In 2008, I readied myself to the best of my ability to welcome my daughter into this world. In 2009, I began to concern myself with leaving behind a legacy. I found a job. It paid the bills…sort of, but the satisfaction level was somewhere near subterranean. With the possibility of being chained to a cubicle for the rest of my years (and entertaining the idea that I might actually like it), I cast a weather eye toward doing something else with my life other than working for under a living wage. Something that was a far sight better than just tolerable. Something I could be proud of, something worthy.
…and I had no idea what that meant, or what it was.
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It was around this time where I discovered a series of photographs online. They were all answering a question set forth to them which was: Why Do You Do What You Do? On the surface, they’re just simple, black and white photos of random people holding up hastily crafted signs reading something to the effect of, “If I don’t, then who will?” Were I different person, I’d probably regard these as a really clever meme and go back to watching cat videos. But as with most art, these pictures stirred something in me, the longer I stared at them.
It was the exact Call To Action that I was looking for. Why do I do this? Why do I do anything? I started with my present preoccupation. My reasons were pretty straight-forward,“Well, I believe that bread is a universal language. It was the one thing that I was convinced would bring people of whatever stripes closer together. If I could master this, then I would find my place in the universe as some goodwill ambassador, and perhaps give me some sort of life-purpose.” Bake bread, spread happiness.
Unfortunately, the aspirations of being a culinary Santa Claus had to be thrown to the back burner as the feasibility of starting an Artisan Bakery was suffocated by the big, fluffy pillow of reality. Even though my aspirations may have faded slightly, the question hadn’t. ‘…Why?’
I kept searching for a ‘because’.
Driven. That’s what the term is. I’m motivated. If I’m ever going to survive, then I must move forward. The only way forward is through, and I’ll be damned if I was going to leave this world without doing something meaningful. Years passed, along with several other ideas, but that underlying need never went away. It didn’t matter if I was all gung-ho to open my own pizza shop, or my current endeavor to create and sell designs to fund my ultimate goal of writing that novel, to actually writing that novel. The common denominator of all of them is my need to create. It is a need. It is a thirst. It became less about the destination and more about discovering the many paths to get there.
But I digress. Getting back to the original question of what my needs are. Well….
- I need to survive. Plain and simple. I was raised to believe that if you went to school and found a job that everything would be fine. What I’ve learned since then is that nothing is guaranteed. Not your education, not your job, not your relationships…nothing. The only thing that you can hold on to is what you can truly call yours. In order for me to thrive, I need to keep doing what I should have been doing years ago. I need to grow and learn and not be afraid to do so. I need to create. In order for me to survive, I need to be paid for it, for lack of a better term.
- Most of what I do is sarcastic, ironic, wise-ass, but generally harmless. I understand that. But, that being said, I need to be taken seriously. I began this life as a class clown. It’s who I am. I have no preconceived notions that I am otherwise. But, as time rolls on, we all know that they may take the clown out of the class…they’ll never take the class out of the clown. I just don’t seek attention for the sake of seeking attention. No. I seek attention with the intention of making you laugh, think, ponder, muse, cringe, rejoice, live, love, sing. I seek attention to remind you that you’re still alive. You are all still alive and wonderful. I’m serious about that.
- I need to keep my eyes open. I need to keep my ears open. I need to keep learning. There is inspiration all around. I need to see the world the way a photographer would. I need to listen with the ears of a poet. I need to create with the mind of a baker.
So, what are my needs? Why do I do what I do?
Once upon a time, I made my own bread.
Not because my belly was hungry, but because my mind was.
Thank you very much for reading. I’m off again on another great adventure. But before I go, I’d like to know…