Discovery is One of the Best Parts of Life

 

Reading a book and finding the magic of a word smith who creates a vivid image is certainly a form of discovery. Each day we discover new sights and sounds that heighten our senses and elevate our experiences.

The beauty of discovery is that its not limited. Discovery can be in the form of an endless stream of consciousness that expands our horizons and activates all of our senses. The depth of learning about food, wine, other cultures, places, history, and even ourselves is a boundless treasure trove. This unearthing that lifts our baseline knowledge and better prepares us for the questions that arise from those discoveries is another layer of complexity.

Discovery unveils that which we can only appreciate based upon our research and development of the subject at hand. A food recipe has many different stages before the final product is produced. This production can only be successful if the correct steps are followed. There are no short cuts when in the mode of production and discovery

Food is certainly one example, wine is another. A cellar master has gone through an exhaustive educational and mentoring program before he or she attemps to produce a vintage on their own. The thrill of discovering techniques that have been passed down for generations is a skill unto itself. The terroir, quality of the grapes, the barrel the wine is stored in, the length of time stored, and the nuances that change the strategy from season to season is all part of the never ending cycle of discovery.

That same cycle of discovery can translate to anything. A walk down a trail that leads to the beautiful vista of a waterfall, a pond, a lake, or even the ocean, is an all encompassing sensory experience. Seeing a Uraguayan sunset, the waves from the Pacific ocean as they crash to shore, or a buttery cueball moon over an obsidian sky leads to further questions about the scope of our existence that goes beyond our limited comprehension.

Each discovery leads to this… how much me know, how much we don’t know, and how much we don’t even know what to ask. The inherent beauty of this becomes the excitement we nurture as each discovery becomes a layer of who we are based upon what we’ve experienced. Certainly the most interesting people are the ones that have “lived a little”.

The realm of possibility when you’re in the mode of discovery is a step into the best part of whom we are, our creative side. We look, listen, and take in the knowledge we can impart to those we love and care about. Excitement is an energy that makes everything seem different. The colors, sounds, and interactions provide a stepping stone into wanting more.

Enlightenment has become more than a movement born in the 18th century. It is a term that explores the avenue of enrichment celebrating human understanding and our relationship to the universe destined to improve our own condition.

The discovery of food, wine, other beverages, places, cultures, and our own relationship to all that surrounds us is a journey that lasts until our final breath. Each time (as human nature dictates) we compare the new experience to the old ones. Even though they may be different we have a strand of DNA that communicates these connections. This adds substance to our appreciation of that which we know, that which we can feel, and those we wish were with us to experience that unbriddled joy of discovery.

 

Music of the Seventies and Other Thoughts

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The seventies was a decade of possibly the worst fashion of any decade in history.  With bell bottoms, chokers, ponchos, frayed jeans, and jewelry made of wood,  and other fashion statements that I hope will never surface again… the seventies offered little hope for fashion . However, the seventies was perhaps the greatest decade for rock n’ roll the world has ever heard. Below is a short list of some of the most important musical contributions of the seventies:

The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd, 1973), Blood on the Tracks (Bob Dylan, 1975), After the Gold Rush (Neil Young, 1970), Led Zepplin IV (1971), Rumours (Fleetwood Mac, 1977), What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye, 1971), Call Me (Al Green, 1973), On The Corner (Miles Davis, 1972), Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd, 1975), Band of Gypsys (Jimi Hendrix, 1970), Head Hunters ( Herbie Hancock, 1973), Bitches Brew (Miles Davis, 1970), All Things Must Pass (George Harrison, 1970), Moondance (Van Morrison, 1970), Cosmo’s Factory (Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1970), Off the Wall (MIchael Jackson, 1979), Talking Book (Stevie Wonder, 1972), Piano Man (Billy Joel, 1970), Deja Vu (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, 1970), There’s a Riot Goin On (Sly and the Family Stone, 1971),  Tapestry (Carole King, 1971), Low (Davie Bowie, 1977), Innervisions (Stevie Wonder, 1973), Who’s Next (The Who, 1971), Eagles (1972), Their Greatest Hits (Eagles, 1971-1976), Exile on Main St. (The Rolling Stones, 1972), Live at the Roxy (Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, 1973), Elton John (Your Song, 1970), Peter Frampton Comes Alive! ( Peter Frampton, 1976), The Captain and Me ( The Doobie Brothers, 1973), and of course… Let It Be (The Beatles, 1970).

Shaking off the naturalism, daisy chains, and acid tabs of the 1960’s was easier than expected. The 1970’s unfurled as a paradox of both striking diversity and remarkable coherence: From high-concept program nerds and high-octane guitar solos to high-heeled glam-rockers and rough-and-ready punks, the decade saw the rise and dominance of the album-as-unified-statement.

The driving beat, the melodic weaving of youthfull exuberance paired with melodic structure captured the hearts of a generation. To this day the songs of the seventies forever live in the hearts and minds of that generation. Those that were born after that storied decade of musical genius can only imagine the experiences that led to the most famous lyrics in the history of rock n’ roll.

I was blessed to have lived in California during that time. The middle part of that decade, the seventies,  I was in college at Chico State University. This was a time of exploration and enlightenment that led to discovery and the baby steps into adulthood.

So many songs of the seventies captured the flavor of growing out of our teens and into the world beyond our cocoon.  From the political movements of the day to respecting the earth and its bounty to the sexual and drug exploration that was tantamount to living through that decade of discovery we all grew as people. The songs of the seventies enriched the party or the gathering to the point of creating timeless memories well beyond those that lived during that moment in time.

I feel because of the unrest in the sixties the seventies bore the fruit of that struggle. Music enriched by the poetry of love lost and the ever present statements that bore a commonality to the situations of most teenagers and young adults that have stood the test of time. Personal liberation and rebellion against authority became central themes of the seventies. This new outlook viewed a change in the way we looked at politics,  religion, popular culture, and sexuality.

Although historians have portrayed the 1970’s as a “pivot of change” in world history, focusing especially on the economic upheavals that followed the end of the postwar economic boom… for our “Baby Boomer” generation it was a time to honor friendships, family, and experiences that became the driving force behind whom we are today.

Beyond the above mentioned aspect of life is our inherent questioning of authority rather than becoming lemmenes following the masses over the cliff. This “questioning authority” follows the narative that most conspiracy theories are actually true. The seventies instilled in us the ability to see events from many different angles. Sometimes in contrast to the limited perspective being fed us from a media controlled by a hidden agenda.

 

 

Never to Late to Learn about Life

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This merry-go-round called life spins so fast that some times we forget the nuances and focus on that which is presented like a sledgehammer. In many cases this sledgehamemer doesn’t care about our feelings but flatens our spirit while teaching us something we should have recognized to begin with. Lessons to be remembered and used to enhance our lives (for the most part) are lessons learned the hard way.

Be it patterns in “meaningful” relationships, business opportunities, professions we may choose because of status, or the simplicity of following a diet plan. All of us weigh our circumstances not always relying on our own judgment but the opinions of others. Sometimes we may be swayed by the romance of success not thinking of the hard work it takes to achieve it.

Whatever the situation our personal growth, experience, and work ethic are several of the keys to determing accomplishment in any of the above catagories. It seems as life spins our focus becomes the result and not the journey. The result is usually related to the pursuit of a job title, money associated with said title, or the elusive feeling of love.

The nuance of life is that of discovery. Discovering whom you are and how you react to the vicissitudes of life is an important building block to form a strong foundation. Each block is placed upon your pillars. As you build your foundation you provide yourself with a better opportunity to flourish and expand your horizons. The strenght of your foundation is directly related to the choices you make and the work you’ve done to realize the importance of building that foundation.

Each subtle nuance acts as a divining rod to find the spiritual strenght needed to combat doubt, indecision, and the fear of failure. Each stride that stretches our comfort zone is an excercise that is meant to expand our horizons. That which you can not see but feel is a nuance that must be relyed upon as you continue on a path of your own design.

There are no short cuts. There are no worthwhile experiences in life that are not the result of hard work and good decisions. Just because someone is a certain age doesn’t mean their ideas are any more important than your own. I truly believe that passed lives play an important role in the wisdom we are born with.

The intuitive poetry of a child or a feeling we’ve been to a place or met a person before is not something to be discarded lightly. Intuition is merely a voice inside given to us as a calibrator. It is another tool in our spiritual belt for acheiving our dreams and goals.

Typically as we enter our “golden years” our choices are reflected in our circumstance. Each decision of the past has placed us on a path that leads to either a feeling of comfort and content or a feeling of “what could have been”. The contemplation of the past is a complicated mix of many different emotions. However, your body doesn’t live in the past. Why should your mind?

The energy of life is the nuance of discovery. The educational progression of experience based upon excitement drawn from the pillars of strenght   enriches our lives and expands our horizons. Within that moment we open that package as a child would open a Christmas present. We then begin a new objective feeling the comfort we’ve felt many times before, a new journey, basking in the excitment of the unknown and the greater reward of possibility.

 

 

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

When we are so engrossed in our work lives sometimes we miss that which is the most important aspect of life, inner peace. For most, inner peace and work are not synonymous, they infact are conflicting.

Inner peace conveys harmony within, a place so perfect that it enables us to reflect on that which we believe to be the most important. Of course our spiritual destination is attainable only if we have the wisdom to seek it and the sagacity to understand what we’ve discovered. Like most spiritual journeys what we find is subject to our own translation which is a result of the totality of our life’s experiences.

When our lives revolve around work it becomes a difficult task to seek that which could potentially fulfill our spiritual destiny. Majoring in the minors is a common trait among those in the workforce. Purchasing stuff that creates immediate gratification is a hollow victory. Typically the anticipation of the purchase is better (in most cases) than the actual purchase itself, as that is a fleeting sense of satisfaction.

Then what are a few of “my favorite things”? Let me list a few that come to mind. The beauty of another that brings a smile when you think of them. This could be a past or present memory of a person in a situation that always brings a wonderful feeling. Perhaps the smile is what could have been or what is. Maybe it’s a memory of your parents that you hold dear to your heart or even a best friend that is always there for you without judgement.

Exploring new or existing literature makes one think of the possibilities of all that is in our world. It always amazes me the intellect that creates fictional stories, analyzes methodically and in detail the constitution or structure for the purposes of an explanation, or simply the poetry of observation. This too could be a “favorite thing”.

Traveling to places we’ve never been opens the avenue of discovery to not only the natural beauty of the place but the customs and people associated with that culture. Traveling also offers the opportunity to see how really small the world is especially when it relates to the coincidence that is remarkably consistent when it relates to cultural anthropology.

Lets not forget the binding force of music and food which traces historic roots of the people and places we visit. Ingredients indigenous to a particular area is another example of the topagraphy of the land and its natural resources that make that place so unique and that product so special.

It could be the white truffles from northern Italy or the black truffles from southern France. It could be the caviar from the Caspian sea or the fiddlehead ferns from the pacific northwest. What about Kobe beef which is a herd of less than 3,000 cattle in the prefecture of Kobe in Japan? This beef is considered a product by which all others would be judged. There are only eight restaurants in the entire US that offers the real Kobe beef.

The music from different countries reflect unique national anthems that identify each nation, not to mention the cities and villages that showcase different dialects, instruments, and rhythms. I would be remiss if I didn’t allude to the distinctive wood, varnish, shells, or animal skin available only in certain regions.

These distinctive natural products have given certain people within specific cultures an opportunity to create beautiful instruments with the benifit of an expertise that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Another of my “favorite things” are the beverages around the world that add so much to the distinct cultures that have crafted wine, beer, and hard liquor since before the Romans were even a footnote. Each beverage relies on soil, weather, and the craftsmanship of the brewer or cellarmaster to reach heights that can only be discribed as “significant”.

From the Trappist monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance making Belgium ale, to the winemakers in the cellars of the first growth wineries in France, the message of quality and distinction have resonated since the middle ages. There is no marketing necessary as these brands have created a tsunami of expertise that has been passed down from generation to generation.

So many items that could be your “favorite things”  I have not even broached.  The breath of this is subjective and can take on the many layers as that of an onion. As we peal it back we begin to discover what makes our heart tick and our soul soar.

 

Happy New Year’s Eve

Each year around this time amost everyone looks back to the previous year (close to being in the record books) to see what memories both good and bad can be both savored or conveniently forgotton. Every year has its share of laughter, tears, struggle, and triumph, that logistically balances into a strange configuration we call life.

Our lives weave into a pattern of comfort as we see the end is closer than the beginning. Some find solace in repetition and the classic repeat of time honored work or family tradition.

I however find that variety is the spice of life. This leads to new discoveries that expand our horizons and helps us find fullfillment. Packages that haven’t been opened, places yet to be seen, and interactions with people yet to be met helps define the exploration of our journey.

With each new trip our focus becomes the time frame we live in. Few live in the moment which unveils the smallest discoveries that sometimes turn into the largest miracles.  One such miracle are the Wallaces.

We have somehow found a magical place near a small little town called Orofino, Idaho. Located in the panhandle of northern Idaho not too far from a major city, Lewiston… we have found peace and friendship.

Tie Creek is the official name of our sub-division with approximately 17 owners we live 13 miles from Orofino. Across and down the valley we view our neighbors, the Wallaces. Ryan, Amy, and their children Claire and Lucy have become our very special friends.

It’s funny how life is. I retired this year and looked forward to completing the build of our home and starting our new life in “the middle of nowhere”. Well, as fate would have it we are blessed to have met some very special people, the Wallaces. Through-out my life I have never met such kind and generous people that exude the mantra of “what this country used to be.”

Their word is their contract and their love for each other spills over to envelope all those that are blessed to know them. Almost every weekend they come to their sanctuary and light the outside lights to let us know they are there, only a hop skip and a jump from our home.

Nancy and I so look forward to seeing them. We try to make a point to get together attempting to (in some small way) return their constant generosity and kindness. Of all the different challanges over the course of this last year our friendship with the Wallaces stands by far as one of the best parts of 2022.

Ending my some 40 year relationship this year in the restaurant business was another major development. I’ve worked at some of the finest dining establishments in the world.

I’ve owned, managed, bartended,  and served in high end restaurants my whole life. I took a break in the late nineties to own two inns in the gold country of California, the All Seasons Groveland Inn and the All Seasons Sugar Pine Resort. Each experience brought extreme challanges usually followed by reward. To get to the reward took perserverance and a single-mindness   always trying to focus on the destination and not the obstacle.

Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I failed. I suppose in truth I learned more from defeat than I did victory. One of the greatest aspects of retirement is taking the abundance of time to reflect on my life, where its been and where its going. Usually when you have time, you have no money, and when you have money you have no time. This is certainly a unique place to be untethered by a job with the resources to not worry about that which you can’t control.

Now there is no one to hold back the reigns of possibility other than the greatest distance you’ll every travel… the six-inches between your ears. I want to acknowledge another very important aspect to where I live now. The people in this area are only about who you are and not what you have. This leads me to my final observation I have come to realize about this year, a year of transition.

My daughter, Nancy, and extended family are the blessings I think of everyday. To listen to my daughter speak of her discoveries both good and bad brings to the forefront my most important responsibility, and that is being a dad. Then their is Nancy whom without her love and support, none of what I’ve accomplished would have been possible.

Friends and family are the most important aspects of life. Even though I relish being in the middle of nowhere I look to my friendships as the true measuring stick of success. Those I’ve known since childhood, those I met in college, and those I’ve met through work and others by complete blind circumstance are truly gifts.

Each friend holds a valuable piece of my heart and helps me look at myself through different eyes under different circumstances. In conclussion I would say that having the time to think of these simple thoughts is a graceful departure from the hustle and bustle usually defined by others. The peace and solitude that is now my life honors the sacrifices my parents and others have made to help capture this very special moment in time.

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Remembering

 

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Anyone I’ve ever met has a memory that they share, which gives a clue as to who they are and what’s important to them. The wonderful part of remembering is the process it takes to begin and end a story that becomes better with time.

I remember this season in particular. Perhaps its because that no matter what was going on, our family would always be together for the holiday season. Thanksgiving kicked it off with Christmas around the corner and finally New Years Eve (which is more of a grown-up holiday) with its champagne, music, and of course the spectacular food.

When I was knee high to a grasshopper I would climb our Oak tree in the backyard to the very top of that tree and cut down the mistletoe right before the Christmas season began. After I felt I had enough of this beautiful parasite which represented romance, fertility, and vitality I would wrap the mistletoe in red ribbon. Though it was created by bird feces and poison aside, it still remindes me of Christmas.

I would then take a box and fill it with the mistletoe wrapped in red ribbon and go door to door selling each bundle for $.75. After a full day of going door to door I ended up at Petrines supermarket selling whatever amount I had left. A full day’s worth of work would net me around $15.00. I would then use that money to buy Christmas presents for my mom, dad, and grandmother.

Remembering that process gave the Christmas season a very special meaning. Because I worked for the money and then purchased the presents with whatever budget I had, it seemed there was an added feeling of accomplishment. Climbing the tree and putting together the little bundles of mistletoe was just part of the rituals that became a holiday tradition.

Putting up the Christmas lights with my dad, buying the real Christmas tree with my parents, and acting as Santa on Christmas Eve, became a part of my very special holiday memories. My mom would make a shrimp salad with home-made thousand island dressing and a home-made onion soup. This was the traditional meal we’d always have for Christmas Eve. That meal became a “Jenkins” tradition as much as anything else. Remembering fondly those times long ago brings the moment back within a fingers reach as though it was only yesterday.

One Christmas my dad and I performed with a string quartet, the Hallelujah Chorus in a small church in Novato California. My dad and I both played the violin. I remember how nervous I was to play next to my dad who was such an accomplished musician. My dad had played the violin before the Supreme Court Justices and several presidents, and here I was a novice with a love for music I inherited from my parents. The concert went off without a hitch and I realized how much I loved to perform.

I remember the many music teachers I had along the way including my dad. My dad didn’t have the patience required to teach me and so that duet was short lived. However, my love for music blossomed, and along the way I learned more about music and more about myself than I would have without that practice and discipline required to succeed.

Each time I hear certain tunes performed by specific artisits I think of my parents. Both my mom and dad were accomplished musicians. My mom played the piano and would accompany me when I would compete for a chair in different orchestras. Sometimes I’d  play recitals, or just play in front of my parents friends after a barbacue or special dinner.  My mom and dad were always there playing the tunes for their friends they all grew up listening to.

The laughter and the love is what I remember the most. I was blessed to grow up with two loving parents that treasured me as much as I did them. This is what I remember as I look back.

Now I am the age of my parents, later in life. Time really does fly but with it we can sometimes slow down the clock to capture that memory so dear to our hearts. I guess life is about beginnings and endings. In-between is the recollection of moments that we capture for a nanosecond.  Like a bubble we blow into the wind and watch it disappear into thin air, simply knowing what we saw and what we felt, enriching the best part of who we are.

 

 

Holiday Magic

It seems the holidays bring with them a sense of magic. This magic can translate to many different components that are interwoven into a spirit of connection. We connect with our families, friends, and even casual acquaintances but even more than that we connect with that which is truly important…giving.

I think of the holiday season as a platform for the charming and glorious relationships we have with our own childhood, family, and the spirituality of Christmas. As a child we take the story of Santa and a magical kingdom at face value. It is a story told by many that gives it creedance. It’s also the Santa we see, the Raindeer, Elfs, festivities, and of course the presents.

What could be better than to live in a place like the North Pole surrounded by Elfs making toys, Santa, and a journey to bring toys to every little girl and boy in the world? This background puts everything else in our lives that may be negative or distracting into a box we can discard during the holidays.

An advent calander, the presents themselves filled with mystery and expressions of love and caring for those we shop for. But most of all it is a time to experience the smiles and laughter that comes with giving a little bit more of ourselves than the rest of the year.

Everytime I see Christmas lights, hear the Christmas music, and witness the joy of giving… I think back. I think of the many Christmas days that have been etched in my memory. I think of how much time and effort my parents spent to create a wonderful two day period (the 24th and 25th of December) that elevated my happiness to a level that is rarely experienced in life.

I see their faces when I look outside to the beautiful vista of snow, evergreens, and the lake below. Oh, how I miss them! It is in that moment that I remember the past and think how I can be better in the future. I think these thoughts to (in some small way) honor their memories and attempt to live as they taught me. Special recognition should be given within our minds and souls to those that shaped our lives and helped create the person we are today.

I guess that is what I see this season as. This Christmas season should be a tribute to our families and friends that have ment so much to us over the course of our lives. As we unwrap the packages and look into the faces that surround us, we should give thanks for our circumstance and the love we share during this very special time of year.

I love this time of year because I can feel a change that embraces most of us. It is a gift, which is why we call today the present. Through-out time the most special gifts are the ones we took the most time and effort to acquire or make. Maybe it was that BB gun for my fifth birthday, the 49er Jacket, the heartfelt card, or the embrace from family and friends. Whatever it is/was, it stays in a very warm and exeptional place close to my heart.

Christmas magic is silent. You don’t hear it, you feel it, you believe it. As I embark on my latest/newest Christmas I see the world with the beauty God intended. It is as if I see it for the first time with fresh eyes. These eyes that have seen so much are wiped clean with a new perspective.

This vision is for the hope of a place everyone can go to be at peace. Peace within themselves while enjoying the gift of giving to others, and the hope that will come with a belief in the magic of Christmas. This magic will be displayed as random acts of kindness and Paying it Forward so others can know the true spirit of the holidays that makes this season so very special.