dinner time conversation, miscellaneous, drivel

…the cracker aisle…


In some small way, life always comes back to food for me. It always seems to be the perfect analogy, the one thing I know, in my heart of hearts, everyone can relate to on some level.

I’ve always thought life is amusing in the sense that when you look around you, who you’ve managed to surrounded yourself with – that is where you are in the world. It is like shopping and being in the cracker aisle, and realizing the only people you will find around you are pretty much just looking for crackers, too.

I never quite understood this aspect of myself, the need to be understood or explain what is simmering in my head. Maybe it’s the result of being off on so many wild tangents at all times, and wanting to share that with other people. Maybe it’s a simple quest for sharing some sort of intimacy and wanting to share a similar intimacy with them, or resonate on some level.

It isn’t that people can’t understand; it’s more the case that they’re preconditioned to languages they speak and not experiences that are universal or transcend boundaries of states and countries and cultures. They get caught too much looking at trees and miss the entire forest, or that others might have a similar forest they can draw from as comparison.

I first stumbled across this aspect of my personality in my final year of architecture school, trying desperately to simply come up with a thesis. As usual, I’d spent the entire semester avoiding the professors who’d long since learned that coming around to my desk was futile in terms of any architectural discussions – usually I’d be sitting and carving odd looking heads out of balsa wood, or cleaning pens, or would wander off to the bathroom… It was thanksgiving of that year, and in a few short weeks I had to have my ‘program’ written and complete and submitted – hundreds of pages of research and empirical evidence to outline and act as the reference for my design which I’d be completing that following semester. I hadn’t even started and I was off playing in San Francisco, visiting my sister and brother-in-law for the holiday. I spent a day sitting down at the water watching it and it dawned on me why nothing held my interest, nor seemed particularly important until then. It was water. I had discovered earlier in the day, the ruins of a public bath that lay only a few miles to the west (Sutro Baths).


I couldn’t put out of my mind that pretty much everyone ‘got’ water – the concept and necessity of it – as well as having elevated it into sacred rituals and or at least cherished it in some degree. I knew what my thesis would be; a public bath built over the ruins of the old ones…

It isn’t anything about bathing per se, that intrigued me; it was the larger notion that pretty much every person on the planet could relate to the idea of bathing. Even if the particulars might be lost, it could be understood with no words. A simple procession through water of varying temperature and salinity (which changes buoancy). A notion that bathing wasn’t just utilitarian or for hygeine; that it could be pleasurable and an art form accessible to most anyone…

Food, and cultivating any intimacy with the making and growing of it is just exactly like that. Lately I’ve discovered in life, that some people just don’t want to know life on those terms. They don’t want to know things that transcend boundaries at all, or know that they share far more in common with pretty much everyone else on the planet at some level. And simply because they are common, doesn’t mean in anyway that they aren’t sacred or beautiful. Quite the opposite; I find them to be the most beautiful and sincere expressions of all humanity, the need to elevate the most simple utilitarian things into beautiful objects and sacred rituals…

I think that’s why it’s mandatory to look around yourself often, at the people surrounding you, and look at what they are seeking… Maybe you’re stuck in the cracker aisle with them, when all along you’ve been craving tomatoes and olives and fish and cheeses, or just the need to wander and see what else is out there… Sometimes you have to venture beyond where you are, even if don’t know exactly where you are going… And maybe, if you keep your eyes open, you find lovely little diversions like Durian along the way…


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