“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or a prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does then the particular balance of success or failure - as the world measures success or failure - is of less account.” John Gardner
There are days when I feel like I grow more than others, where each moment has a particularly rich and deep quality to it. I can lay in bed at night when it’s over, recalling each detail with a sense of contentment and happiness. I’d like to live every day in that manner but the truth is, I find myself more often than not victim of a certain passivity and complacency where time slips away without me being fully engaged and present. The day before the Chuckanut 50k, I took a trip with Yassine
to visit Shane Hart
and the Udo's Oil
production facility, an experience which struck me as powerful example in the art of inspired living.
As we get to Shane’s I’m a little woozy after the long drive up from Portland and a fair amount of “tweet-swerving” on the freeway. As I enter his house though I can’t help but feel better as I’m overcome by the strong soothing energy the space exudes. It’s the type of house you’d want to come back to after a long day of work, nestled up on a hill, among towering trees with a lake view. Everything just feels right, the decor effortless and simple, with chairs you want to sit on, a kitchen you want to cook in and a long wooden table to gather around and eat. We meet his wife Jen and his three children all of which radiate the same kind of beauty. When Shane mentions something about believing that your space is a reflection of your mind, I find myself thinking he has a fine mind indeed and that maybe a little tidying is in order when I return home. We’’ll be back later for tempeh Rubens and to spend the night but in the mean time we’re off to meet the founder and owner of Flora, Thomas Greither who is taking us on a tour of his factory.
Thomas pulls up in a what looks like a golf cart mated with a space rocket. He hops out of the vehicle and plugs it into the wall. This crazy looking machine is fully electric, goes a 120 miles on a 4 hour charge and accelerates from 0 to 60 in just over 3 seconds...no biggie - lets start the tour. We each put on a lab coat, shoe and hair covers and get our hands washed by a device nearly as impressive as the car. As we gradually make our way through each room of the factory, Thomas explains every aspect of the production of the oil with the passion and excitement of someone showing this all for the first time. At every turn, I expect to see a waterfall of oil and for us to get on boat steered by umpa lumpas. The attention to detail and thoughtfulness that goes into producing each bottle of oil is astounding - everything from the sourcing of the highest quality flax in the world from Northern Canada due to extended sunlight exposure, to the custom intricately designed machinery, all built and repaired in house, and the quality control lab which keeps samples for two years of every batch of oil to insure traceability of its source should any issues arise. Despite the state of the art facility, Flora’s approach to production remains artisanal. Each oil press is scantly bigger than a household coffee maker (I’m only slightly exaggerating). Herbs used in products like Floradix or Bija teas are grown right down the road on Flora’s 80 hectare farm.
Thomas offers to give us a quick tour of the farm as a nice way to finish the visit and casually suggests that I drive the rocket golf cart over there. Once we get going, he comments on my driving being too delicate (a word no one has ever used in the same sentence referring to me and automobiles) and kindly asks me to floor it. Simply following orders, we’re slammed back in our seats as the car switches to a higher voltage and we enjoy a few minutes of Washington autobahn before pulling up to the farm. A miniature statue of liberty towers over a field of ginkgo trees, birds play wild in the metallic sky, the American flag floats in the wind blowing towards Canada where snow-cap mountains protrude in the distance. Right there it hits me that there’s a lot more to this oil than a compliment to my smoothie or salad or good energy for recovery, behind the opaque glass bottle found in grocery stores, there’s people doing the right thing, there’s an idea for a healthier and more wholesome way of living, there’s a journey from seed to soul.
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