I have always been a fan of quotes; whether they draw a nice chuckle or evoke intense emotion, I love all the shapes and sizes they come in. I have my favorite songs and movies memorized forever, and cite them often. It even makes me angry to hear someone sing incorrect lyrics or to listen to an attempt to poorly recite classic cinematic lines. Quotes are a well from which I draw inspiration. Especially now.
Before Bill Cosby started slingin’ pudding, my man “Heathcliff Huxstable” said, “The past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.” The past should never be forgotten; that would be irresponsible on our part. However, the past should also not prevent us from moving forward with rigor and will. We need to somehow look to the past to correct our mistakes at the same time we are resisting dwelling on those very same mistakes.
I had a great friend who lost his battle with cancer a few years ago. I cannot stress how inspirational he has been through all of this, so I will attempt brevity. His name was Drew Rodrigue. For those who may read this and did not have the pleasure of experiencing his perpetual smile and bright rosy cheeks, I am deeply sorry. His mantra through his diagnosis and treatment was in the form of an acronym: FIDO. It means “f*** it,
drive on. Politically correct? Maybe not. Precise? Absolutely! This is the way I must view the past in regards to cancer.
I do not know why I am going through this at 32 years old. The list of possible medical reasons of “why” will forever run through my head. I cannot change them however, so I choose to move forward. I must have the “short memory” that we often reference for a quarterback after an interception. Learn from the mistakes. Always. Then, press on. I tell my young cooks upon their entry to our team, “It is okay to make ten mistakes once, but we have a problem if you make five mistakes twice.”
The past cannot control our free will for the present, which can determine the outcome for our future.
I truly feel that this is a second chance for me. I have always pushed myself to be a better chef. My career is one where complacency means inferiority. The push to exceed my professional skill set is innate, but what I now see I need to become is a better husband and father. I feel that this tragic circumstance has given me the ability to do that. This is the present. Live in the now. Being around my family with such emotion on a daily basis makes me revere the “small things”. I am watching my daughter grow and develop every day. She has a new set of tricks each morning she awakens. I can shape her future. I see my baby son becoming more a boy with every sunrise. I can help mold him to be a man. These opportunities have always been there, I just took them for granted.
So often the life of a chef leaves the family with the “leftovers”. The pun is intended here. They get the father and husband who is tired and irritable. He has displaced all his energy at work on guests they will never meet, and food they will not taste. I do not in any way feel spite for the work I have done, or the food I have made. I know that when this is done, my desire to create better food and culture will be ferocious. My time, however, will also be spent loving life. Loving my family every day. I am pushing to create a routine and lifestyle that will allow for more energy, health, and positivity. Knowing that the past’s misfortunes are shaping the present to facilitate a beautiful prosperous future.
I cannot wait for the ride.
“The future starts today, not tomorrow.” ~ St. John Paul II