Creatives Abhor Stasis

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I’m not a factory guy. Never have been. Never will be.

I am highly motivated by creativity and logistics. I love planning and executing big broad-vision projects, with a Virgo-eye to details. I enjoy that “edge” that happens in making big things happen.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself over the past ten years is how much I distaste factory-like repetitive work. It’s probably the reason I moved culinary jobs so often over the years. I’d learn a restaurant’s in-and-outs, push for high-creativity in all areas, and when the operation couldn’t see the value of “pushing the envelope”, I’d become restless.

If I were young again, and contemplating joining the military, I’d go special teams. It is diversity of experience and knowledge gain that fuels my soul. I’ve come to realize that this dismisses a large percentage of the personal relationship opportunity – but I’m very ok with that. I’m very ok with being true to self.

I don’t really care for the nuance perceptions of the label Renaissance man; I’d rather, if label were to be applied, be called a Internationally Savvy Creative.

What about you? Are you afraid of static living?

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We’ll Leave the Light On For Ya

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Those of you who’ve followed my travel adventures over the last couple years know that when I travel solo, I’m pretty frugal.

Partly this frugality comes from growing up in Montana and partly from living fourteen years in northern New England.

But it also has something to do with my version of nomadicism.

Whenever I hit the road, the back of my mentality remembers the nomadics throughout human history. Even today nomads – and refugees, and the very poor – travel pretty hardcore comparative to what media and most of US society believes is normal.

Last summer, after People Report Summer Camp in Dallas, I decided to take Greyhound back to Portland Oregon. It was smelly, slightly dangerous (at least until Colorado) and uncomfortable. But, I met some very interesting folks that I still keep in touch with – a ranching grandma, a college student heading into foreign affairs and a railroad locomotive engineer.

Since Spring 2009, I’ve taken eight long-distance (multi-night) trips in coach on Amtrak. Out of 800 hours of rail travel, I’ve shared the seat next to me maybe 40 hours.

I’ve slept at least four nights on the granite floor of Boston South Station in the last 2.5 years waiting for a bus to leave in the next seven hours.

I get a kick out of traveling uncomfortably. It reminds me of the reality of millions of humans today.

By the way, when I travel with a lady friend, I like traveling in comfort, unless we’ve mutually decided to “rough” it.

Tonight I’m parked in a Motel 6 on the coast of New Hampshire. There’s a bed, table, desk, chairs, television, shower and air conditioning.

It ain’t bad. Oh and fyi – Dennys still makes a good burger.

 

Lesson from Al Pacino – Tony Montana – Scarface

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This weekend, chilling out in New Hampshire, I watched Al Pacino‘s Scarface for the first time in years.


I had forgotten how well Al Pacino does a Cuban refugee in this movie. While most people online seem to think the best scene is at the end, when Tony Montana bursts out of his plush drug-lord office madly doped and screaming about his “little toy”, I have a different scene that is my favorite.

Go back to the beginning of the movie, when he’s just off the boat. Watch Tony getting questioned by Immigration. Watch him later when he’s a dishwasher, cutting his first drug deal.

While I don’t condone the selfish message, I do respect this thing. I respect the naked determination and self confidence, that that rare someone who has nothing will occasionally exhibit.

The determination message is what shines through for me.

Bi Coast ality :: Live Work East/West :: A Continental Existence

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In May 2009, frustrated by lack of community and opportunity in northern New England, I moved back to Portland Oregon after 14 years on the East Coast. During that move, I wrote a five year plan.

The five year plan included two main operational points. First, rebrand my professional life. Check – many of you know Chalkboarder. Second, establish working presence not only in my favorite city, Portland OR, but also, within five years, re-establish working presence back in New England.

It seems that day has arrived faster than I anticipated it would.

I’ve been reading Libby Tucker’s blog, The Anywhere Professional, with interest. Libby shares her operational expertise in living/working anywhere in the world through her blog. She’s got great advice.

While I would love to kick it out to Peru or Siberia for two week shots and follow Libby’s lead, I can’t. I have two daughters that I deeply desire to spend time with, in New England. I can, however, live and work bi-coastally, here in the US.

Toward this end, and to maximize the opportunity for great relationship with two awesome daughters, I’m working to set up an office/residence from September to June in Portland Maine, to go hand-in-hand with Chalkboarder headquarters and my family home in Portland Oregon.

I wonder if I’m going to become known as the Portland Squared Dude – with live/work space in both Portlands?

Running At Bullets, Not Away

I’ve been hanging out at my good friend Bill’s up in New Hampshire the past month, assessing winds of change. Bill and I go way back, back to 1997, when I hired his brother to work in a kitchen I was chef’fing. From 2001-2003, Bill was my primary food sales guy, providing that kitchen with excellent customer service. We’ve done a lot together, including managing a ten hour eight-block ice carving competition in the frigid depths of winter on top of frozen Squam Lake (which many of you would know as the lake in the movie “On Golden Pond“).

As a dear friend, I’ve often turned to Bill as a confidant. As I’ve helped him rebuild his deck and chilled out with him and his family, Bill and I have spent a lot of time talking about the changes emergent for me. He keeps repeating one statement to me: I run at the bullets.

Bill’s history is unique. He has a period of his life that is still highly classified – as a covert government operative overseas. I completely trust him. I trust his business mind, his friendship and I trust him at my back in a brawl. He’s taught me many things over the last 15 years and I hope I’ve been able to give back a reciprocal depth of friendship.

So Bill, thank you. I’ve added you to the short list of daily mantra. It’s a very short list.

Mohammed Ali (boxer) – “No matter how many times you get knocked down, get back up.”

Lewis Kingman (ancestor and surveyor of the Santa Fe Railroad – “One foot in front of the other gets you there.”

Bill Bridgmon (friend) – “Always run at the bullets.”

Experiential Fortunes (or.. one foot in front of the other)

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Ten States. California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.

Eight Major Cities. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland (OR), Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington DC and Boston. My top three are PDX, SEA and BOS.

These are the places I have lived, both well and not-well financially.

Forty Four States. The only US states I have not been in are Hawaii, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Kansas. I should really go to Kansas, as my patriarchal line spent several generations there and Grandpa Kingman was a Jayhawk.

I’ve stayed for several nights in one of the most beautiful castles in Tuscany and several nights in one of the poorest villages in Central America. And loved both.

My life is a veritable kaleidoscope of experiences. At any moment, the smallest of decisions can alter the path I take. The smallest sentence uttered by a stranger. The hesitation or lateness of a system, say, a plane or train journey. I do my best to live by an old Japanese saying: that every action has a reaction to the seventh generation. I do my best to keep this forefront as a living attitude, the “heads up display” for living.

I’ve mentioned many times the Greek philosopher Heroclitus, who stated the only constant in human experience is change. I’ve experienced so much that I claim that statement as carved in the heraldric.

I find that the sheer volume and depth of diverse experience steads me well, comparative to many others. I witness so many in this society tremble and crack over the small, over the insignificant. I ‘spose, this is what individuals, such as those who helped the Grand Explorers (de Leon, Colombus, Lewis & Clark), must have experienced, and that they too, upon return to “normal” society, turned a steady and patient, perhaps with a touch of scoffed amusement, eye to the seemingly, to society, significant travails of usual life.

This past week an unusual plethora of experiences swelled in abundance in my path. My horoscope for weeks has been predicting significant “sea changes”. Not to jinx, and only in oblique mention here, these changes, as predicted, run rampant with opportunities.

Always keep eye on the end goal. My great great uncle surveyed the Sante Fe Railroad. He drove several hundred hard men through the American Southwest, laying track and fighting Native Americans, the Mexican Army, another railroad and bandits for years. All he did, was put one foot in front of the other. And keep “rabbit ears” and “eagle eyes” in full employ.

Stories We Don’t Tell in Public

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Over the past couple weeks, I have asked a number of peers and friends, both new and from way back in life, to write character letters on my behalf in an on-going legal dispute with my ex-wife over my daughters.

I did not ask these fine folks to share their letters with me, but several have.

I am humbled by the stories of parental loss, and sometimes, reconciliation, that were shared with me.

At a minimum, I have known those that shared, for about two years; others, much longer. I had no clue that these fine people had had these experiences. Each of them lead lives that suggest they came from the “Cleaver Americana”.

To each of you who shared, thank you. I opened my story up to you – and your sharing was a significant return of openness. My care and appreciation of who each of you are is so much deeper and humbled, as a result.

Some of you, I met through social media. We, together, through these humble acts of personal sharing, are creating deep bonds of village – now, and for the future.

I believe this is something that our society forgot how to do after World War II. I have this theory that WWII and the “greatest generation”, took a path of silence in relationships. “Don’t talk about it.”

Of course, my outlook is shaped by US Western history. One hundred years ago, even sixty years ago, you relied on your neighbors, both professional and friend. The bonds of village were deeper. I think you can trace the destruction of village-making to the ramifications of trauma from WWII – but I’m not a sociologist.

What I do know is this.. some people that I only knew professionally, or casually, have shared very intimate histories, and now when we communicate, I can give them a deeper attention, a more nuanced and solid relationship.

A Grandpa’s Touch – Post Father’s Day

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In 1976, my grandpa, Charles Edward Kingman and my grandma, Berniece, gave me a black leather Bible. While I haven’t hardly read passages from it except occasionally, since the early 80s, I have carried it with me and it has been near my bed for thirty-five of my almost forty-seven years.

The days in my first couple years of college when lovely Erika Perry would scootch up next to me and share holding this Book are long gone. But I can point to the passages that she underlined on our laps during service.

I have changed over these thirty five years. I have experienced great triumphs and great losses. I’ve lived in eight major cities and ten states. I’ve lived both quite well and dirt poor during these years. I’ve had a few long periods of being a bachelor and a few long relationships. The most important lessons learned in life came not from mentors nor teachers, but from my own self-exploration through a dysfunctional marriage and bitter divorce; leaving me humbler, wiser, more patient and self-confident.

The highlight of life has been spending time with my daughters Grace and Ellie. I miss them terribly, as many of my peers and friends will attest too from our conversations.

Heroclitus, the Greek philosopher, states that the only constant in human experience is change. How true these words are. Most humans crave constant, not changing, lifestyle. That is not, however, the destiny of any human. We get change. Constantly. I learned at a young age to embrace that.

My grandpa Charlie knew what carrying that Bible would do. He knew that it would become a worry-stone, if you will; a touchpoint of reassurance in a crazy world – allowing me to touch his, my grandpa’s, presence. My grandpa saw a lot of change – from selling apples in Kansas during the Great Depression, to serving in WW2, to the cultural and familial changes over a life of 82 years. Somehow, he knew that I would always carry that book with me.

Existence of Vagaries

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Shifting one’s perspective is always an intriguing exercise of existence modality. It can offer insight into the past, present and/or future.
I found this image in a Google image search for the word vagaries. I’m not sure why the photographer would have yagged it with this word, but it certainly fits the mood for this post.

The image is from a photostream (with over 750 images) of bank buildings around the world. Click here for a relatively fascinating pictorial.

I’ve been processing a lot the last few weeks. I cannot relate in public a majority of my ponderings and processings, but they’ve encompassed past successes and failures and dreams, hopes and concerns of the future. A veritable confluence, if you will, that has cause my shoulders to straighten.

It’s so ironic, how you can learn patience, presence and Zen, thinking you had learnt those attributes from others (some of whom were revealed for faux-teachers), when in reality, the learning only comes from within.

 an erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion

probably from Latin vagari to wander, from vagus wandering

First Known Use: 1579
from Merriam-Webster.com

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ 

The result?
Reflection on this image communicates perfectly.
  • tranquil
  • clarity
  • inner peace
  • inner eye
  • all-seeing
  • omnipotentence
  • strength

Boots On The Ground

My sister has never had a drivers license. She’s made it into her early forties, raising two kids, getting her Masters of Divinity and leading a successful life – all without driving. I don’t know how she’s done it.

Twenty two months ago, I relocated from northern New England back to Portland Oregon. Before the move, I sold a beautiful old Mercedes (that I’d converted to run on used fryer oil). I sold it for a few reasons:

  • Maine winters had been hard on the car’s mechanics
  • Portland Oregon has the best public transit in the USA
  • I wanted to make a personal statement about living green

I’ve made a commitment to go two years on public transport. It’s been pretty easy, but…

I’m ready to drive again. Here’s why:

  • I love driving – the feel of it
  • Standing in the rain sucks
  • It’s difficult to get out in nature (where my spirituality is greatest)

There’s another reason as well.. there is a trade-off in productivity. Having a smart phone certainly helps, but the limitation of Portland’s public transit is this.. It takes forever to travel the edges of Portland.

So.. come May 15th, my two years are done. I’m looking for another older Mercedes diesel to convert to used french fryer grease. Hopefully I can find one with that gorgeous “Bavarian Cream” yellow paint again.