I didn’t watch the Emmy Awards, and I still haven’t seen any of Michaela Coel’s work (yet). But, I happened to watch her Emmy speech because of a random tweet. It’s a good meditation for me, as I feel I have so much to say based on my health challenges and the struggles of building a company, but have yet, years later, to get a word out. I need to take her words to heart.
I just wrote a little something, for writers, really.
Write the tale that scares you – that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable.
I dare you, in a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible. For visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success.
Do not be afraid to disappear – from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.
It sounds silly, but the first time I ever heard Nick Drake was when his tune “Pink Moon” was co-opted by Volkswagen to promote the Cabrio. I hated the car, but the ad captivated me, and the song stole me. I was fairly new to San Francisco in those days, and Drake is now inseparable in my memory from those early years in the city, and exploring Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Since then, I’ve listened to Drake’s three albums countless times. I recently discovered an old documentary about Drake entitled ‘A Stranger Among Us‘, and to this day, no one has ever found live footage of him playing. I hope there is some somewhere, and that it turns up in my lifetime.
Fast forward to the past couple of years, and I’ve been following Josh Turner on Youtube. He’s a highly refined musician who plays tons of instruments, and has a great voice. This cover of “Three Hours” may well be the closest we ever get to seeing Nick Drake play. It gave me goosebumps.
We’re starting to plan longer overland trips, some of which will include checking out North American national parks. Bringing our dogs along presents all sorts of challenges, and in doing some homework I came across this oh-so-Canadian explainer about dogs in Canadian national parks.
My old man (Phil Zahnd) wrote this on October 2009 to his colleagues in the Federal government. He forwarded it to me. He retired December 31st, 2009, and not four months later was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer at the age of 63. Defying the odds, he fought for another 14 months before passing on June 20, 2011, eight days before my 37th birthday. I was proud of you dad, and I reckon you’d be proud of what I’ve accomplished.
I actually started Cozy later in 2011 after I saw my dad’s health rapidly decline. He had postponed so many dreams to travel, fish, play golf in order to provide for the six of us, and when he finally earned his comfortable retirement, it was stolen from him.
I had been running a “lifestyle” business UX consulting company at that point which was doing quite well, but seeing his ultimate path made me change my mind. Instead of running a lifestyle business until I retired, I wanted to crush myself for a few years, try to make a bunch of money, and get the fuck out. I accomplished my goal, and now I’m evaluating what work means in this new world, and how I should bring meaning and depth to my life. I hope to figure it out quickly, because reading my dad’s words in hindsight are frankly terrifying for me now, having gone through a kidney transplant and now having a stent put into my heart as of three days ago.
After much wrangling and gnashing of teeth, I have made a life-altering decision – that being, I’m retiring from Federal service at the end of this calendar year. I could go into a lengthy monologue regarding all the catalysts leading to this decision, not the least of which is my family’s health situation, but I find it unnecessary. Suffice it to say that my wife and I are getting no younger.
I would like to expound on a few things about my career with the USDOL. It’s been a wonderful experience. This is not to say there have been no difficult times or strife. I’ve always just tried to work hard and do the right thing.
I started my career with the USDOL in January of 1972. This was after serving a stint with the US Navy and graduating from the University of North Alabama. I worked as an auditor for what is now OIG for about nine years. I left OIG in 1980 for my current position as the Atlanta Regional Cost Negotiator.
I have truly enjoyed working for the Division of Cost Determination. The staff has been so nice. I have had the opportunity to travel around the country doing presentations on indirect costs and cost allocation and performing site negotiations with grantees. The friendly and interesting acquaintances I’ve made with ETA and other Federal partner agencies, as well as the grantee community, have been plentiful.
I cannot leave out a salute to my brothers and sister, the other Regional Cost Negotiators. They have always “had my back”. I send out special thanks to Steve Cosminski, my confidant. He should be known as the “Champion of Tax Cost Sharing Plans”.
I will miss everyone. With one of my favorite quotes, I leave Federal service:
“All we have is time. What we must do is decide what to do with the time we have.”
Every word of this applies to how an outdoor fire affects my mindset, but tying the likely-Muslim Arabian Nights to frying bacon probably wasn’t the strongest metaphor Daniel could have used.
No matter where the old camper may be, no matter how long a time may have elapsed since last he slept in the open, no matter how high or low a social or official position he may now occupy, it takes but one whiff of the smoke of an open fire, or one whiff of the aroma of frying bacon to send him back again to the lone trail. In imagination he will once more be hovering over his little camp-fire in the desert, under the shade of the gloomy pines, mid the snows of Alaska, in the slide rock of the Rockies or mid the pitch pines of the Alleghenies, as the case may be.
That faint hint in the air of burning firewood or the delicious odor of the bacon, for the moment, will not only wipe from his vision his desk, his papers, and his office furniture, but also all the artificialities of life. Even the clicking of the typewriter will turn into the sound of clicking hoofs, the streets will become canyons, and the noise of traffic the roar of the mountain torrent!
There is no use talking about it, there is no use arguing about it, there is witchcraft in the smell of the open fire, and all the mysteries and magic of the Arabian Nights dwell in the odor of frying bacon.
The Book of CAMP-LORE and WOOD CRAFT, D.C. Beard, 1910 (from the how to lay a good cooking fire chapter)
This was about a fax (or was it a telegram?) he needed to send, but as I am grappling with reducing or completely removing social media from my life, this rings true more than ever.
“Instant information is instantly obsolete. Only the most banal ideas can successfully cross great distances at the speed of light, and anything that travels very far very fast is scarcely worth transporting.”