Ever had one of those moments? You know, those moments that seem so insignificant at the time, but that somehow get stuck in your brain for life. And the older you get, the more and more you find yourself reminiscing about ‘em.
Until one day they become cherished memory.
I’m not talking about the big things; like your first kiss, graduation, or your wedding. I’m talking about the little things . . . the smell of your grandmother’s pumpkin pie baking in the oven, watching your children play in the park, or that one lazy Sunday morning when you and your lover slept in late, sipped coffee in bed, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.
Those are the moments I’m talking about. We tend to take them for granted, but they are precisely the moments that matter. Because they are the memories we keep. Our treasures.
And sometimes . . . just sometimes . . . they can change your life forever.
A Benedictine Monk and His Bread
“This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!”
My girlfriend just laughed.
We were sitting there – just flipping mindlessly through the channels one morning, when out of the blue I stumbled upon it . . .
A life changing moment.
But I didn’t know it then. It came disguised as a television show.
Right there in front of me I saw it . . . the greatest thing ever. A humble monk — robes, beard and all — kneading a loaf of bread.
I don’t know why it resonated so strongly, but I’ll never get the image out of my head. I wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world.
Because I became a new person on that day.
It was only a week after discovering Father Dominic that I made my first loaf of bread. More of a brick really. I made it for my family’s Christmas gathering. But it just sat there, untouched and unwanted, all evening. A rock hard cinnamon swirl lump that I eventually just tossed in the trash after taking a bite.
Yeah, it was terrible. It made no matter though. I was hooked. And I’d taken my first step towards a decade long career as an artisan bread baker. A path that first brought passion and joy.
And finally . . . bitterness.
Over ten years of a man’s life . . . challenge, struggle; success and failure. All charted the moment the TV flipped to some monk baking bread in his abbey.
From Bread to Bodybuilding
“You think you can do more pull-ups than me?”
It was a simple challenge. A dare really. My friend and I were sitting outside the bakery, taking our break. I was 33 years old. Out of shape. Pudgy. Weak.
My friend was in his mid-20’s and built like goddamn Superman.
But I was the one making the challenge. Sometimes I say stupid shit . . . I don’t know why. So we found a good beam to hang from and my friend proceeded to humiliate me with pull-up after pull-up while I struggled and wheezed after just one mediocre set.
Yeah, he shamed me. I deserved it.
But I loved it.
All the struggle, all the pain, all the challenge. Every bit of it. I wanted more. I wanted to win. So I started training. Just pull-ups at first, but then push-ups and eventually weight training. I meant business.
It wasn’t long before I finally beat my friend in what had become our weekly pull-up contest. I never lost again.
You see, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, that first pull-up contest was another one of those life changing moments. This time disguised as a half-serious challenge to a friend.
But it was more . . . it was a way out.
A way out of the baking career I had once cherished. A way out of my soft middle-aged body. A way out of the stagnation and bitterness in which I was trapped.
And I was about to escape it all . . .
A Little Red Barn in the Country
“I found a place. It’s a barnhouse. And it’s even red!”
She just laughed.
We’d been broken up for a few months, but we were still living together. It was hard.
She’d been there when the channel flipped my life into a new direction. She’d been there when I came home sore and exhilarated from that first pull-up contest. She’d seen me transform my body, give up my baking career, and go from long hair to no hair. She’d seen it all.
And she’d waited long enough.
So she ended it, and now it was time to part ways. But I wasn’t going to just move into another crappy apartment. I’d had enough of that shit. Enough of the clutter. Enough of the city. Enough of the noise.
I needed peace. Some place I could think. Lord knows I had plenty thinking to do.
I knew this was the place. The moment I first stepped inside I knew I had to have it.
Such a little thing really . . . a new place. I’d gone through plenty of new places. But this one was different. This one was life changing . . .
Building a Blog
“Holy Shit bro! I just bought my own web domain! And I don’t even have internet on my computer yet!”
Those were the exact words I texted to my little brother out in California.
I’d been at my new job for just over half a year, but I knew it wasn’t for me. The office life that had seemed so ideal back during those hot sweaty days in front of the oven had proven itself otherwise.
Not that the job was bad.
It was a great company, full of great people, and offered me great pay and benefits. Even moreso, they actually invested in me. But it wasn’t long before I realized that I just wasn’t cut out for the office life. I’m a blue-collar guy by nature, and the office just became too constricting for me. Suffocating, really.
So I took up blogging.
It gave me something to focus on other than my all-consuming work life. And I secretly hoped it might lead me on a new path . . . a career where I wasn’t bound by a desk.
And it delivered . . .
But not in the way I expected.
My physical fitness blog had sorta morphed into a personal development blog. It was no surprise really, just a natural extension of all the soul searching I’d been up to during my time at that little red barnhouse.
I’d gone there for solitude. I’d gone there for change. But I never foresaw the change it was about to bring . . .
A Three Day Fast, a Dream, and Passion Rekindled
“I can’t believe I had a baking dream again!”
That was my first thought on waking that morning. I hadn’t dreamt about baking in years.
It was the second day of what turned out to be a three day fast. I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting, and while I hadn’t set out to undertake a three day fast, what evolved from it was purity of vision.
You see, the thing about fasting is that it gives you clarity of thought. And I often have extremely vivid and insightful dreams when I’m deep into a fast. This was one of them . . .
It was a relatively simple dream really — just me back at work in the bakery. But I was so damn happy in the dream. So fulfilled. When I woke from it, I just had to start writing. I scrapped the blog post I’d been working on the day prior and instead wrote this . . . a treatise on baking and passionate living.
Another life changing moment.
After writing that post, I couldn’t get the thought of baking again out of my head. It simmered there for awhile, but it wasn’t long before the urge simply boiled over into an uncontrollable longing for a return to the baking life that I’d given up.
So that’s what I did . . .
Pastoral Life and Finally Coming Full Circle
“So . . . why do you want to work here?”
The look on her face was puzzled. Kind of comical, actually. She really couldn’t understand why I was there handing her my application.
Maybe I just didn’t look the part.
I was standing there, all neat and trim in my office garb — you know, “work casual” — beard short and proper, shoes clean and flour free. I probably looked like I’d never worn an apron in my life.
“I’m not cut out for office work.”
It probably wasn’t the best answer. I could’ve told her how much I missed baking, how I longed to work with my hands again, how important it was for me to actually produce something of worth from my labor.
No. It wasn’t the best answer. But it was the truth, nonetheless.
And I got the job!
I couldn’t believe my luck, working with such highly regarded bakers as Chuck and Carla at their landmark “O Bread” bakery.
And the location . . .
It just doesn’t get any more beautiful than Shelburne Farms. Fourteen hundred acres of lush forest, rolling pasture, and imposing Gilded Age architecture. This place was amazing; quite the contrast to the sterile office I’d been stuck in for the previous year and a half.
If a soul can weep, then surely mine wept with joy.
Because I was doing what I was meant to do. I was baking again.
I was a baker.
And so I’d come full circle.
Of course, the story doesn’t end there. But that’s for another day . . .
Trevor J. Wilson