Sunday, March 22, 2020. Only a DOP1 Vintage Post today, sorry. Slept in, went on a walk, fussed around. This is the advantage to having ten years worth of journal to post, namely, if there’s nothing new, at least there’s the old. Anyway, this tale of the food cart ends badly, a tragedy, but so be it, such is the nature of risk. It remains a story worth telling.
The Hog Goes Wild
Monday, March 28, 2011. I’m having a blast getting the HH t-shirt and ball cap graphics set up and ordered – this shit couldn’t be easier to do these days – fuck, I found this cool online print shop customink.com who has a good story and a good feel and makes it a breeze to click in your .ai graphic, check out different shirts, hats and colors of course, and place an order. In a couple weeks, you’re supposed to get your shit. Like my brother Kevin says, “Amazing what you can do with the right file.” No shit. There’s a risk that the stuff I set up will look like crap, but hell, there’s plenty of time to grow the HH biz into the behemoth that justifies more such “gear.”
This stuff has always jazzed me and now, finally having followed my heart, and listened to that advice from our counselor who suggested that “You need to be in charge” I am in charge, along with Angie of course, but in charge of almost every little thing (which I know can be a curse, but it doesn’t feel like it to me now) and making the decisions I think are the best. And that includes satisfying my desire to create a good logo, some fun “gear” with our HH image, and to present ourselves to the world according to my vision.
I’m convinced, as I move through this HH development, that it’s simply an expression of myself that has somehow been held back, suppressed, because each step I take now seems to establish a change, like a switch clicking, from which there’s no going back. The ideas begin, mature and are implemented, then quickly establish themselves as permanent, like the stepping stones that they are I guess. I see flaws in those ideas, the improvements that need to be made, and I realize this is just the creative process as everyone, musician, painter, writer, businessman, etc. has always experienced it; it just happens to be new to me in terms of this HH business. There is a difference between creating this book and creating HH, which is a business meant to engage the world in a less private manner – it’s designed for interaction vs. just introspection. So while the creative process is not new to me, the creation of a small business is new, and I’m seeing how it immediately engages the world and is affected by it. Yes, HH is my idea, my vision, but it acquires the influence of everyone else simply through its exposure. It’s different than critique of a creative work by the public or a teacher or a peer – the business has this added requirement to be sustainable. I can’t choose to let the “weeds grow around the gate” (Campbell) with HH as I might with this book – if I don’t keep my feet moving and generate income, HH will return to a hobby instead of a business. So how to be authentic and still connect?
Right now I’m not as concerned as I sometimes think I should be – why? I’m hoping that it’s because the HH vision is from my heart, and simply needs to be done, then become the stepping stones that it will become. I can admit to some pride, but not there’s no stubbornness involved, it’s just moving forward and becoming what it needs to become now.
Should folks not buy my food, then we’ll see what happens – I don’t have any particular contingency plan other than continuing to find a way to cook and be involved with the food business, despite the success or failure of HH. This is a comforting thought really, you’d think it might generate the opposite mental state – panic, for example – but it just may be that following your guides works in this manner – you don’t lose your way and you therefore don’t suffer the panic of being lost. It’s not that everything goes as planned – in fact I feel like I know there’s really no plan on any adventure except perhaps the starting of it. You have a vision, a VOG, but for me it incorporates all the unexpected somehow. I’m prepared to be unprepared now.
In reading through some of this ragged tome, I find that I’ve scattered one of the most important themes – biophycomythology – throughout the book without really nailing down what it means. Most of the work took place prior to our new adventure with Humble Hogs and Mark’s Carts. It’s a good way for me to mentally and chronologically “package” the experience.
What is biophycomythology? I’ve described it as a mixture of philosophy, psychology, and mythology. For me, it describes a lot of the work that Joseph Campbell did. What it’s come to be now, over the months since I created the term and refined my thoughts on it, is:
The study and application of being who you are.
I had defined and refined my thoughts on one of the first incarnations of the hh website, but now that I’ve tweaked that into commercial readiness, pulling the personal stuff to keep it simple and straightforward – the kind of concise website I’ve come to appreciate – “just the facts” so to say, with a little mystery in it or at least enough for folks to maybe create their own connection to hh, I find that I discarded some stuff that appeared nowhere else. Most of which belongs in here. So here again, restated, is the essence of my own biophycomythology, which has emerged as six vocations that must remain part of my life in order for me to be who I am:
- Urban Trekking
As I move along, I’ll stay vigilant about whether some or all of these things should change, be discarded, replaced, added to. But as a result of the TX rehab period, this is what I’ve got, and I think it’s important for anyone reading this crap that I’ve demonstrated some results; some tangible, real, useful outcomes of all this thinking, self-study, yoga, exercise, contemplation, writing, reading, walking and talking. Canfield said to “apply the principles because the principles always work.” It’s true. You can find, create or discover your way, I’m living proof.
Heaven & Hell
April 5, 2011. We’re preparing to move – we’ve pulled the pictures and shit off the walls, including the flat screen and mounting bracket (which was a fucking project to install and, along with my center speaker mount, was a true home-improvement masterpiece I must admit) and started patching holes. We sold our refrigerator, washer, dryer and dining room table to a young couple from the north side of town, (which, in the Houston area, is a one and a half hour drive away) and they’ve apparently got an off-duty Sears appliance delivery guy coming out with his work truck (‘can’t be legal but who gives a fuck) to pick the stuff up. These folks got all their shit ripped off when the recently moved to an apartment – both finishing up college, just getting started in life – the career climb, ugh, I hope they’ve got their biophycomythology right. They’re Korean, with immigrant parents, who we met (their dad is buying the dining room table) – so maybe that eastern philosophy will help them, who knows. Anyway, they need stuff – their insurance payoff has been pending for months, and we’re happy to help out with pretty much giving this stuff away – $1,500 for everything. Now we’ve got just over a week to live here without a refrigerator or washer and dryer. Sucks, but what the fuck, no pain no gain and this is what it is to move, there’s nothing good about it except getting to your new place.
I won’t forget that moving consultant that came out to our 1709 house in Ann Arbor only three years ago (it feels like ten) and when we expressed some anxiety about leaving a town and house we loved, he said “Moving trucks go both ways.” I remember thinking then that yeah, well, that’s not going to apply to ME. Wrong. Back I come to Ann Arbor. At least my tail’s not between my legs – that’s something I need to remember because it does seem like a failure to me to go back there. It IS a failure to have to leave this TX house and start again somewhere, anywhere else. I failed to make this work down here. I almost failed to stay married, healthy and happy too. I leapt, fell, and lived to tell about it. And this time we’re going forward with good guides. Campbell:
What I think is that a good life is one hero journey after another. Over and over again, you are called to the realm of adventure; you are called to new horizons. Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco. But there’s also the possibility of bliss.
While I’m at it, I’d like to dump some more Campbell on you, and I’m not going to waste time paraphrasing or even typing a quote – I’m just pasting the scan from Pathways to Bliss, p.108 (if you’re interested in more Campbell , read his works, or try the Joseph Campbell Foundation website https://www.jcf.org/
Why “Heaven & Hell?” Because that’s what my own myth feels like sometimes. Especially now, in major physical transition from one place to another and into the hands-on beginning of HH – it’s almost “go-time” and there’s the realities to deal with and my doubts and concerns and fears and old habits – moving pushes a lot of buttons and old triggers – my personal historical references have proven that there’s some substantial risk of failure in these endeavors. But I have to remind myself, with the help of guides like Campbell, that this is a path I’ve chosen and it’s from my heart, it’s my myth and therefore what other way is there to live? None. This, what I’m doing now – is me living out my personal myth. The hell fades away and I’m thinking there’s heaven (of a sort) in the process….
There obviously isn’t any philosophy, Eastern or Western that fully explains why the hell this life, and the death that follows it, happens. We come into existence and struggle to self-actualize, to fulfill our quest, our destiny, our personal myth, our biophycomythology. We change ourselves beyond measure and at the same time not at all from birth to death. We’re part of nothing and/or everything before, we exist as us, and then nothing and/or everything afterwards again. Do we go on in some way? Why would we? Why should we? It seems to me like we should because it’s a waste of all that experience and skill you gain if it all just comes to an end. Even if you pass on a lot of your biophycomythological knowledge, it still seems like we all get jipped out of something if it’s all just coming and going, with nothing everlasting, not even a spirit or soul, whatever that would be. I’ve learned a lot about what life is about. But I don’t expect to ever figure out why we die, why anything dies.
April 6, 2011. HH tees and hats have arrived!! Very exciting – I think we’re gonna look good out there.
April 7, 2011. “I can’t tell my courage from my desperation” (Springsteen). There’s been more than a handful of “adventures” I’ve undertaken in such a state of mind. Finally changing my major to philosophy in 1987 (and thereby finally graduating); buying a one-way ticket to NYC in 1990; giving up on NYC and returning to Michigan to get an M.S. in 1993; accepting a new job in Texas City in 2008. Now, returning to Ann Arbor to start a small business in 2011.
I’ve recorded my lists of accomplishments and “prouds,” using the advice and guidance of Canfield and Ari. Rather than looking at your past as a mess and a series of impossible fuck-ups, you can look at what you’ve done right. It works. But I’m still battling doubt and fear as we prepare, in less than a week, to leave our home in Friendswood, our house neither sold nor rented, and try for a hole-shot towards bliss in Ann Arbor. Knowing what’s at risk, and what failure is like, and the what it’s like to try to recover from failure, is the other side of gaining experience in life – it doesn’t always work out, no matter how much you want it too, and I’m not ignorant of the true risks involved. So what are they? What do I see as the things that are limiting me from succeeding?
Number one would have to be money. It’s hilarious that money remains a concern to me after all these lessons in life that have told me how unimportant it really is, that it’s just a tool to live out your myth. A biophycomythological tool. So what about money is bothering me? Paying the mortgage on this TX house. Which is on top of the A2 house lease, the Mark’s Carts/Union Hall Kichen rent, and the expenditures for HH. All of which Angie and I have discussed at length and even written into our VOG – contingency plan and all. So what the fuck am I worried about? Old thought patterns and habits. Triggers that pitch my mind backwards and indeed start to allow my rational mind to take over, to try to increase my odds of survival versus thrival, of bliss. So there you have it – I can at least see my problems, see the struggle, the conflict within myself. I can beat that fucking rational mind back, which has good intentions, but a heartless strategy. Strategy is what the rational mind is for – to strategize the technical details of bringing the VOG into being – it’s not the job of the mind to dream and project and envision – that’s what the heart is for. If I can recognize these triggers and these mental habits – these fears, doubts and desperations – for what they are this time, just an overdriven rational mind, then maybe this hero’s journey is truly that, a ball’s out committed drive to LIVE before I die. With rewards commensurate to my efforts this time. Money is not the reward, just a tool, just something that needs to “flow easily in our lives” to quote Maya Fiennes.
I’ve looked at this from many angles and the only angle that matters is the angle from my heart and in my heart I know we must do this, that it’s our way and our life as it should be. Risks be damned, there’s no fucked up housing market that’s going to stop me from being who I am. Kawasaki poses this exercise in a chapter entitled “The Art of Being a Mensch:”
It’s the end of your life. Write down the three things you want people to remember about you.
He’s pre-numbered your answers 1, 2, 3 on the page. I read my answers from when I read that book, several months ago:
- Enjoyed my life.
- Died with my boots on.
- Knew how to have fun.
I think I’ve been in some sort of schism – I’ve been looking, sometimes at least, at this new adventure as a return, a going back in time, as well as a new adventure that is taking us forward. It’s been adding to my stress. Angie’s too I think. She’s got to go back to working in the NSF office, which she’s dreading – all that bad biophycomythology floating around in the workplace. I’ve got all that baggage from my past – family, jobs, blah, blah. It’s the past. We’re going back to Ann Arbor, and Angie and I know that it won’t be the “same” as it was – we don’t have our dog, we don’t have our old house at 1709 or even 721, or even our old apartment at Pine Valley. Those places are in our hearts, but they are not the future. Ann Arbor is a guide; a city can itself be a guide, at least for me. PDX is a guide. So is NYC, Texas City, Galveston and Houston. Some guides ask you to follow them, and some simply point the way onwards, past them.
The opportunity at Mark’s Carts is an omen. Ann Arbor has presented an open hand; a partially opened door, and the timing is not to be ignored. If, as Coelho says, an omen ignored can become a curse, then I’m not letting that happen. We’ve done well to get this far, and our guides are in plain sight. Now is not the time to start looking around for a path, somebody else’s path; it’s never the time for that. We must trust our hearts, come what may. It’s not about turning lead into gold. Instead, it’s about transcendence and fulfillment – Campbell’s “hero’s journey.” Also, as the Alchemist said, “It is about penetrating to the soul of the world, and discovering the treasure that has been reserved for you.”
Update April 7, 2011. I picked up the HH umbrella today. We like it:
I think it was a “eucatastrophe” (to borrow from Tolkien) in the end – the extra graphics on the underside are cool and the boondoggle at U.S. Awning means I get ‘em for free, which saved me $225!
I’d like to stop spending money on HH and start making some. But I also want the website, the tees, the hats and the umbrella to project the HH experience with the same energy and passion that we’re putting into it. We’re creating the HH space and place and we’ve only got so many things we can use to establish this before folks get to the food. The food is next, and now I can focus on it – it has to deliver what the image and “brand” are projecting, which is “slow food fast” (the mantra for HH). The graphics, colors, food and our passion, skill and heart – we’re going to add something good to the world and take a chance on folks wanting to connect with us and be a part of it by chowing down at the HH Cart!!
It’s less than a week now until we move out. I think my brother is nervous about me making it with the cart food. Sometimes I think he’s trying to remind me to focus on the food vs. all the branding stuff. I know that he really gives a shit whether we make a go of it. Most other folks in your life are rooting for you, but they’ve got nothing invested in success or failure, that’s not a bad thing, but if you think you’ve got more than a handful of people, family or friends that care about what happens to you, especially if it’s bad, then you’re kidding yourself. It’s been said by many that “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.” But there’s that handful who stick with you through everything. Kev’s one of them.
I know how to cook and what tastes good, but I don’t know if HH will fly or flop as a food cart. It’s got built-in resiliency – it’s diversified from the start. Not that success at all costs is what it’s about. I’ve said from the beginning that the Mark’s Carts project is not a money-maker – it’s going to be tough to ever turn any kind of meaningful profit whatsoever. It’s an opportunity maker. That’s what I’ve learned about biophycomythology – that you can’t just get caught up in the future, even though I’m a futurist by nature. I need to restrain that talent and use it for making the present happen, which is what I’m doing with all this HH prep work. I’m getting my present in line to be prepared for the future. I’m preparing for success. Some folks seem to prepare for failure, and I think I’ve made that mistake too. Hedging bets. Looking for a path, someone else’s path, vs. following guides.
Beginnings are easy and hard at the same time. Start-ups are actually something I’ve had a lot of experience with, so you’d think I’d be o.k. with what we’re doing now with HH. But when you’ve got all of your own skin in the game, it tightens your blow hole so to say. The only thing that “worries” me is that I’ve not been creative enough, unique enough, that I just don’t have enough of whatever I need to interest folks. Food writers will probably not trash my food, but I’m scared to death of being damned with faint praise. Being an also-ran. Good food, but nothing to get jazzed about. These thoughts are bullshit I know because I can only deliver what I know is from my heart and if the idea doesn’t jazz anybody, then I’ll adapt, change the menu, keep plugging, or feel o.k. with just walking away from it, knowing that I’m not cut out for it. Life does that for you – it delivers the lesson and while you might be disappointed, you don’t feel baffled or confused by failure because the “success” is measured in other ways when you’re following your guides. The journey continues, your guides don’t abandon you. One door closes and another opens. So I know we can’t “fail.” Just staying true to ourselves is what it’s all about and if we keep our feet moving, we’ll keep moving. There’s nothing I’ve said here that guys like Ari or Maynard Davies or Jack Canfield or Joe Campbell wouldn’t be able to illustrate better than me with stories from their own lives.
The moving company rep just called me to make sure I was ready for next week. Nice people, I’m at least getting the communication I think this biz requires. I’ve always believed that the customer has to sort of manage his own experience when purchasing something, not completely, it’s just that “joy exchange” that can occur anytime you’re paying for something, even a mover, or a lawn service, or a pest control service. If I’m actively engaged in the process and give praise and input and encouragement when things are going right, then when things don’t go so right, the vendor is motivated to live up to expectations that I’ve already established. It’s not bullshitting anybody, it’s just how I want to relate to people.
In The Great Gatsby, Nick, the narrator of the story, describes his first encounter with Gatsby:
“He smiled understandably – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced – or seemed to face – the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
We’re leaving this gilded cage of a home behind, despite still owning it. Our VOG that involves selling or leasing this place hasn’t come to fruition yet. If VOGs have a weak point that proves they’re not magic, it’s the timing. You can, and I agree that you should, be as specific about timelines as you can when writing them to make them as tangible and real as you can. But, like Ari says, a VOG has to be “realistic” and for me at least, the dates and times when I want things to happen might be pushed too far. It might just be me rationalizing though, because if the timeline jazzes you, then it jazzes you. But there are, as my guides have made clear, some things which you are not in control of, no matter how jazzy your VOG is. Time is one of them. But I think it’s good to write it down, project it anyway, to increase the odds of bringing it closer.
We’ve got to believe that we’ll sell it this house and end up with enough income to live in a home we like as much or more than this one. It might turn out that we don’t need such a “nice” home anymore. There’s certainly something to be said for the scrappier college-days style of living – putting your energies into your life outside your modest abode. That’s what sucks about suburban life I think – it’s life in the middle of the road. Having nice things, but nothing really nice. Safe. Comfortable. I don’t want to turn to dust in this suburban niceness, safe and sound in a beautiful mausoleum that nobody sees or visits, except to stage the roll-off out in the driveway to pitch all of our collected crap into after we die. I’ve been through the homes of more than a couple relatives that died, their stuff packed into closets, jammed into drawers, crammed into garages – what the fuck for? Seventy some years old or more and weighted down with all kinds of junk, stuff nobody would take off your hands if you paid them. One-percenter-type wealth is where it’s at as far as piling up money and stuff – that’s a worthy change in lifestyle. But then you get a bunch of stuff that the rest of the world can’t afford to own, and the State buys your house, a museum takes your stuff and that’s the only way anybody gets to see it any of it – another version of a mausoleum. Ugh. Just get on with living. I’m ready to quit talking about it and to start doing it. I’m going to do some painting to get my mind off of this shit…. I’d also like to start writing well – something that sounds good and is well-written and eloquent vs. this clunky diatribe that I’ve created. This whole book seems to be an exercise in lack of skill; in earnestness and passion instead of talent.
April 12, 2011. Packing day. Paying out of our ass to have a full-service move – $5K. But worth it. Moving yourself, no matter how small your cargo, is a son-of-a-bitch and enough to wipe out anybody. If you can dig up the cash to have it done, I highly recommend it, no doubt. Otherwise, say goodbye to several days of your life. When it’s all said and done, the professionals have the equipment, tools, experience, time and endurance to get it done in half the time and about half the space. They also don’t have twenty other things going on at the same time, and what the process costs you in cash I swear it pays for with a corresponding decrease in mental strain and anguish. Sell off everything you haven’t seen or touched in a year and pack & ship the rest. I think it only takes one move in your life to get over the novelty of it. It’s easily one of the most stressful and annoying things you can put yourself through and at this point, having gone through this about five or six times at least, it starts to appear silly and pointless. After all, what the hell are all of us doing moving back and forth from here to there all over the world?
Angie’s really dreading going back to the office and she’s getting cold feet about getting out of here but that will pass. We just need to get out of site of the shoreline and get our sea legs. You can’t help but experience a flood of anxiety when moving out of your comfort zone, even if your comfort zone is a dead end. The mind pulls back, putting rationality in overdrive, trying to increase your odds of survival at the same moment your heart is finally getting its due and just beginning to flourish in the new adventure. Me? I’m anxious, but I’ve been through enough shit in life to know what has to be done and that the obsessive rationalizing will pass once we get on the road. Starting is indeed the hardest part and we’re just at the brink of engaging the physical reality of the adventure; up until now, it’s been only planning and strategizing.
 Joseph Campbell, Pathways…, 133.
 Fiennes, Maya, Kundalini Yoga: A Journey Through the Chakra, DVD Discs 1-7, Mayaspace Ltd., distributed by bodyinbalance, 2007.
 Guy Kawasaki, The Art of the Start…, 214.
 Paul Coelho, The Alchemist…, 138.
5. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby…48.