It’s possible to hold two realities at once. Well, it’s supposed to be possible. That’s what my therapist says. It makes sense when he says these types of things to me. It makes a tremendous amount of sense when he talks to me in that way, for that hour in the afternoon every couple of weeks. My head nods, I smile knowingly, thinking yeah. So true. I know he’s right, even when I leave and walk down the stairs and back out to my main reality, the physical one made of hard things, of other people and their view of me, of all of my deeds and misdeeds.

Misdeeds? “Uh, hold on there bub,” you say. He says. She says. Everyone says who knows what the word ‘misdeed’ actually means, anyone who sees me through the lens that I created for everyone else’s viewing pleasure. The lens that I created for myself to operate underneath, safely, securely. “Sounds kinda too serious, sounds a bit dramatic. Misdeeds? C’mon, give yourself a break. It’s just beer!” Right. It’s just beer. The reality of that statement keeps sinking in, clarifying (let’s wait to joke about this pun) and turning in on itself. Turning into another reality, the bizarro reality where everything is a negative image of itself. Negative like the now-ancient film negatives, but maybe in the other way, too. For the word misdeed may sound like the very wrong choice to describe my actions. Wicked or illegal acts? In starting a small brewery, illegal is irrelevant because we all will step over a line from time to time. There are just so many lines to toe and it’s impossible, really, to know them, let alone respect them enough to adhere yourself to a place where you aren’t crossing them. So let’s dispense with illegal, it’s not very interesting and doesn’t serve us in any meaningful way. I know you agree. But wicked. That’s where things get interesting. It’s what I want to explore a bit at 5 in the morning, in Hillsboro, awake in a hotel room by myself. And if I’ve caught you with the words ‘dramatic’ and ‘wicked’ at this point, don’t go thinking that the next part involves the seedy underbelly of suburbia, the bizarro world sprinkled with coke dust and cash and hookers’ undergarments. Nope. Maybe in another reality, but not mine. Mine involves beer and time, time and beer. How for me, one became the other until they merged into almost the exact same thing. At least, that’s one way to look at it. Another way, dear reader, is to see that I conflated ‘beer’ with ‘creativity’, at least my vision of beer. My special vision that doesn’t seem so special anymore. This still isn’t the misdeed I’m alluding to. No. I think (as this is a journey, writing off-the-cuff, exploring my guts in front of you) that the misdeed is that I didn’t know when to separate the two, beer & creativity. Hm. No. Still not right. The misdeed was (and still is) that the story I’ve lived for the past 12 years, this story I created by conflating beer with creativity (often just substituting beer as creativity) is, basically, a bald-faced lie. I’m going to sit with this for a moment, because I know that within those 12 years, there are SO many truths, too many to name. I know it may read as very insensitive. Please. Hold on. Let me go make a cup of coffee and I promise I’ll come back and explain myself; at least I promise that I’ll dig into this and sift around because maybe you can help me step out from under this lens so I can see things differently. Maybe my experience can help other dreamers along their way?

{the sound of footsteps & fiddling with the plastic contraption that somehow makes coffee by putting another plastic contraption inside. The sounds of crinkled plastic. Thought bubbles popping up regarding whether or not to use powdered creamer because it’s probably made of some sort of plastic. The sound of the foot-operated garbage can opening, followed by too many things going inside of it. But the foot stays down, the lid remains open. Silly human stands in front of it, staring, wishing there was far more room in this little can, wishing it was like Hermione Grangers’ satchel where there was an endless supply of space to put things he considers trash. The lid closes and the machine whirrs. The sound of the machine is not dissimilar to the sound of espresso being made, but make no mistake. THIS IS NOT ESPRESSO!}

Ok! I’m back. What? Why are you looking at me like that?? Is it about what I said? That thing about my life being a lie? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Yes, it’s 5 in the morning. Now 6. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take me seriously. Don’t ever not take me seriously. I do not regret anything in the last 12 years. This brewery journey. All of the opportunities, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve visited. “Wait.” I can hear it in your voice, see it in your eyes. What am I saying??? This is not a goodbye, my friend. That is why I got up to make some coffee. To step away for a sec. Not forever. Just a sec. Will you do the same? I know, I know, you are reading this and it just kinda flows from one paragraph to the next. But if you keep going to this place where I have to stop to remind you that THIS IS NOT GOODBYE THIS IS JUST EXISTENTIAL it’s going to get boring and tedious really fast. So, please, get up, go stretch, go do something else for a moment if this is where your head is going. All I can say is, sure, there are thoughts of ending, of quitting, sure. But this is not about that. This is about something else and I want you to be present for it, so you can help me hold 2 realities at once. Because the younger version of me really really wants there to be another reality in addition to the one I’m currently experiencing.

Ah, younger me. Did you know that I was 40 when I started my brewery? Well, 39 to be exact but anyone who separates those two numbers from each other hasn’t turned 40 yet. So what can I say? I’ve begun this sentence multiple times and deleted it because it kept tending to discuss age and the measurement of time. I’m not here to digress on aging. Oh, wait. Yes I am. There is a quote that I hate and it goes something like this, “If you aren’t a liberal when you are young, you have no heart. If you aren’t conservative when you grow old, you have no brain.” I have absolutely hated this quote since I first heard it. I hate it so much that I have made a point of avoiding knowing who said it. And, like they say, the things you hate say something quite direct about you. The question is what. I can’t say that I’ve budged much on my politics. I think for me it’s the simple acknowledgement of the types of change that you can’t control as you get older. Hm. ‘As time goes by,’ let’s say. Time marches onward, regardless, as you know. In that quote is the certainty that time marches onward, and the claim that you will change. Or at least that you should. I think this is what irks me. Maybe because it’s true? Wince. At numerous points in my younger days, I gave thanks and acknowledged to myself that I was quite happy with my life and who I was as a person. Please believe me, this was done as honestly and pure as the driven snow. This subject could be it’s own investigation of the inner workings of a mildly privileged cisgender male, but let’s not go there. I distinctly remember being grateful for my life and the way it was turning out. Thoughts not unlike ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’ being thought. Is this gross? Is this insensitive? Perhaps. It’s not my intention but it’s necessary to mention. Let’s move on.

Would it be easier to say that the reason I’m not feeling this way now about my life (spoiler alert!) is the fact that I abruptly changed it by pulling out my 401k to build a brewery right when Staci and I were starting a family, right after we’d acquired by an act of god (or the underhanded dealings of a failing mortgage system) a chunk of land I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d actually own? No. That was dreamy and exciting. It felt great to say FUCK IT. It was wonderful to stand at a precipice and throw my lot to chance. I have described this point in my life like jumping off a cliff and somehow growing wings before hitting the ground. I am proud, so very proud of that decision and what I’ve created. There is no need to investigate this further, I can simply go read my previous blog posts and feel those emotions all over again. It was literally magic. There is no other way to describe it. Taking an idea that resided solely in my head, unrealized and only visible to me, and somehow, with the aid of so many others who trusted me it became real. So real. Maybe too real.

So what the fuck? Why dust off the old blog now? What is the point of this exercise? Well, as far as I can tell, it’s because of decisions I made long before starting The Ale Apothecary. Decisions that didn’t seem momentous at the time, or maybe WERE momentous, but only in the hindsight of traveling a long way and looking back. A small adjustment in your directional heading compounds over time and pretty soon you look at the map like it’s upside down. Wait. Hold on. How did I get here? And where is here?? I see ‘here’ in the faces of the young brewers starting out on their own adventure. I hear it in there voices. I know where ‘here’ is when I have thoughts that I keep to myself in order to avoid sounding negative to them when they are so fresh, so excited. I would not have listened, either. I was convinced and committed, and there is so much beauty to behold in that. I get envious of it and want some of it back, to be honest. It’s very similar to witnessing the growth of my children and where they are at, right now, poised for the real world. I am constantly faced with a choice, to say something that is supposed to be helpful, something wise that I’ve gained from my real-world experience or just hold their hand and let them know that they are loved and I’m here for them. I keep opting for the 2nd one. My experience is mine. Their future is what they will make it. If there is anything that I can do to help, all you need to do is ask. I’m here.

But since this is a blog, and you are still hanging in with me, here is what I’ve been trying to get out with all these words. Taking that dumb quote and reworking it into something like this:

If you don’t experiment, you have no brain. If you aren’t making art, you have no heart.

Now, reflect on the title of this blog post. While I avoided mentioning that word anywhere within this creative exercise, it lurks, doesn’t it?


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