Last week T and I found ourselves reeling from news of a dear friend's death. We spent the weekend trying to adjust to the shock of our loss and the rest of the week mostly numb from the reality.
Our friend was one of those guys who lived life to the fullest. Regardless of what illness or tragedy or mishap came his way, he looked bravely toward the future and ran forward. Nothing stopped him: not the Lyme disease that stole his beautiful voice, nor the Parkinson's that stole his mobility.
Mark and his husband traveled and entertained, cooked and gardened, enjoyed happy hours and good meals out. Rare was the occasion that their home wasn't filled with friends and laughter. Mark taught me how to make pie crust. Mark taught me that camping didn't necessarily mean agony. Mark taught me that butter and chocolate are the two most important food groups. I have never seen anyone eat with such abandon and appreciation as he did: he relished every bite, every crumb. Mark didn't waste time and he didn't waste a good dessert.
Mark left us quite a legacy. As I was reflecting upon his life and our friendship, I realized that T and I are lucky to be surrounded by many friends who, like Mark, live their lives with passion and fullness. Their examples inspire us to do the same.
I started writing this blog five years ago to document my involvement in the Solar House Decathlon as part of the University of Minnesota team. My team responsibilities were to create and cook iconic Minnesota food for our dinner parties during competition. It was a once in a lifetime experience to hang out in the little Icon House, erected with nineteen other module homes on the National Mall in D.C. It was also a once in a lifetime opportunity to sit at the lunch table with the cool kids. How many other people can claim they hosted two dinner parties on the National Mall?
Since that time, this blog has evolved into hopefully more than just a diary online that nobody reads. I am now a contributing blogger at Twin Cities Daily Planet, have written for a variety of other online and printed resources including Chef Marcus Samuelsson's blog and the Minnesota History Center's "Toys of the 50's, 60's, and 70's," and have a weekly column in my hometown newspaper the Gaylord Hub.
I hope that those of you who stumble across my words will find humor, entertainment, a few decent recipes, and inspiration to live with passion. To live fully we have to face challenges that scare us and shake off the dust of laziness (for I am truly the laziest person you'll ever meet). Life is all about the stories we tell and we've got to keep churning out copy regardless of how many grammatical errors and misspells we make.
On this occasion, this Fifth Birthday for Cultural Construct, I give thanks to those of you who come here. Tonight, eat your dessert with abandon in honor of the Mark's of the world who inspire us to keep reaching toward our passions.