Bagels, Passion, and Purpose
I gave my wallet a good once over the other day and came across this again. An ID card that I have kept tucked away in there ever since it was given to me back in 2000. It is a military identification that was issued the day after I was let out of prison and the day before the military released me back into the wild - almost nine years into my career. And if you can’t tell by looking at me, I am “impaired” to the gills. It makes me giggle whenever I clean out my wallet and stumble upon it. It also resurrects some deeper memories and emotions, however.
Yes, intoxicants were involved and I’m sporting a dumbass, smarmy look, to be sure. But despite not remembering this photo being taken, I do recall some of the things that were rattling around in my head at the time. And they all amounted to what I can best describe as a strong sense of planless purpose.
This particular day notwithstanding, for the length of my incarceration I had been mentally and physically preparing to hit the ground running upon my release. And I did so, quite aimlessly. It's hard to find what you're looking for when you don't know what it is or where they keep it.
What I did know, was that with every fiber I was ready to commit to something and throw my everything toward it. I just had absolutely no clue what it was or might be. Believe it or not, that is the look on my face here - filtered heavily through like 9 beers and if I recall correctly, some ecstasy. It would take another decade before I stumbled upon inspiration in the form of the great outdoors. Then another handful of years went by before I found passion in storytelling through the mediums of photography, writing, and public speaking.
And now, the approach, motivations, and intentions driving the stories I wish to tell and the ways in which I tell them, have all been re-tailored by trauma. Yet perhaps more purposeful than ever. I suppose the upshot here is something akin to those memes you see where scientist lady X didn’t invent the widget until she was in her 50s. Or musician guy Y didn’t pen Symphony 47b in F minor until he was in his 60s. I’m not comparing myself or what I do to folks of that ilk whatsoever.
What I’m saying is that sometimes it takes a long time before you encounter something that really floats your boat. And perhaps another several years before something else comes along and turns your crank. And some of us spend our first handful of decades making dick & fart jokes, shirking responsibility, and generally mucking up the works before anything vaguely related to inspiration or passion enters our fray. I wish I could tell post-prison, up at 4 am, bagel-making-for-minimum-wage me all of this. But really, I’m just happy I ever stumbled upon such things at all. Truth be told though, making bagels wasn’t that bad.