I'm not sure how I did it, but somewhere in the middle of making ice cream nine hours a day and completing the endless tasks required to keep an ice cream shop going all Summer, I managed to put together the long-overdue follow-up to my first coffee table photo book 'Hand-me-downs: Some Slightly Used Tips on Life for my Little Brother'. It's called 'Ice Cream Parlor Wisdom: Another Scoop of Slightly Used Life Tips from the Guy Making Ice Cream in the Back'.
The format is the same, but the images and essays are all fresh. I hope you like it.
As form of introduction, I've included the introduction you'll find in the book. Here it is...
How've you been?
It's hard to believe it’s been nearly ten years since I gave the one hardcover copy of Hand-me-downs to new high school graduate little brother Ted. I still look back on that day with pride and satisfaction. I had created a book from a tiny voice born out of the experiences and observations of my life. I don’t know if Ted has picked up my little life instruction book since. I hope so, but I try to focus on the things I can control. It was the process of creating it that brought me joy - the challenge of channeling my thoughts into a form that might be used again by someone else. And by me. It was immensely satisfying, and I still get a charge out of seeing a customer leafing through the tattered copy while they eat a cone of cookie dough.
It occurs to me that the life I had leading up to that day I shared the book with Ted barely resembles the life that followed. I've completely reinvented my life to the point of it being unrecognizable from the one I enjoyed all those years before it. I left the confines and comforts of corporate life for the challenges and insecurity of small business ownership. It’s been a wild ride of learning, trying things, and constantly adjusting the sail. Starting something new puts you out of your comfort zone. It’s scary and uncertain; the prospect of success or failure hinging on the decisions you make and the way you direct your efforts. It’s also immensely satisfying and rewarding. Creating something from nothing. Your baby.
During my annual winter break this year, I took a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Located five hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, this ring of tiny islands is both breathtakingly beautiful and fascinating. Teeming with wildlife that harbor little fear of humans, these underdeveloped volcanic islands provide a rare opportunity to see and interact with marine life. Sea lions lounge on park benches. Marine iguanas scurry about on the beach. Playful baby sea lions swim along with the adventurous snorkeler in a lagoon. Giant hundred year old tortoises lumber along the side of a dirt road. It’s a natural habitat unblemished by the progress of human civilization.
It’s also the birthplace of evolutionary theory. Charles Darwin visited Galapagos in 1835. It was here he noticed the subtle variations in similar species from island to island, particularly the beaks of finches. Darwin collected massive amounts of samples and data. This data would eventually become the basis for his landmark thesis, ‘The Origin of Species’. He observed that in just a few short generations, the beaks of finches had changed to be better suited to the unique environment of their island home.
In short, they evolved.
That’s where it hit me. Isn’t that what our own lives are all about? Evolving. Darwin called it natural selection. Whether it be on a soccer field or the thoughts in your mind or in a bird's beak. We are constantly evolving. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, and neither are you. My basic philosophies may be similar, but life has molded me into something different. Our cells are constantly dying and being replaced by new ones. Life’s experiences teach us lessons, point us in new directions, and show us what works and what doesn’t. A decade ago, I steered my life onto a new path, and that’s brought me new lessons and experiences. New teachers have come into my life. I’ve made some of the same mistakes, but I've tried to learn from them. I've evolved.
The day I decided to say goodbye to cubicle life was the beginning of my evolution.
Forcing myself out of my comfort zone was the game-changer for me. It changed everything. I may or may not know you. You may or may not be itching to shake up your life right now. If you are, I hope I might in some small way convince you to consider the possibility. Perhaps a thought or two in the stories that follow might nudge you toward a new path in your own life. In any event, I hope you enjoy the images.
As always, I never claim to be an expert in areas of human behavior, spirituality, or even small business ownership, so I trust you'll filter my ideas through the same sand sifter you employ with anything you read. I don’t know you like I knew my little buddy Ted, but I can still imagine you sitting at the counter of my shop, dark chocolate almond sea salt ice cream dripping down your cone onto your hand as you leaf through this book. If one story makes you think or smile, my effort will have been an overwhelming success. I thank you in advance for listening. Let's get back to it, shall we?
Ice Cream Parlor Wisdom is now officially on sale. Have a look next time you're at Mt. Tom's for a cone or a bag of Swedish fish. While you're here, check out the show on the wall. It includes images from the new book!
Hope to see you soon.