A Curated Life

By Chef Phil Jones AKA “The Drive”

April 26, 2017

As we move through life with its many loops and twists, we are faced with many situations that rarely respect where we are in life.  Let’s face it, shit happens.  It’s true that life itself is that great challenger to the calm journey we all wish for ourselves and those we love.  We all know there’s some bad stuff out there, however, usually coupled with this is the fact there’s always that calming belief “that will never happen to me,” which is actually mostly true.

Odds are that most of the bad things we could have the displeasure of experiencing will never happen to any one person, but that’s only because there are so many things that can screw you that you couldn’t live enough lives to run through them all.  You don’t have to feel left out.  Your own problems will be jacked up enough for you to feel like you’re fitting in.  Believe me, your burden will be enough for you to understand that life is hard.

We all have things to worry about.  Storm clouds find us all.  Just live.

Those clouds have found their way into my life.  Well, my family’s life, but my mom’s, mostly.  She has recently been diagnosed with stage four lymphoma in her spleen and liver and has begun her treatment with chemotherapy, but it’s especially hard because this all happened overnight, literally.  We never envisioned this for us as a family, but it is what it is.

All of this has caused me to take a look at my mother’s life, my life and those many points of connection and distance between us, which has been cathartic and difficult to consume, and I kind of have been ripping the Band-Aid off with vigor.  You know when things come up from those deepest crevices, you’re forced to examine memories and relationships.  You sometimes unearth pain you never knew to exist finding yourself being dragged through life by hands that are no respecters of people and their pain.

We all live life, but it’s up to us to decide how well we do it.

There’s a bright light that I have found at the end of the tunnel.  I can stay locked in the grips of despair, or I can use this as an opportunity to live well.  I haven’t been.  Something has been missing.  I do a lot of stuff. I have stuff.  I’ve seen stuff, and I will continue to get stuff done.

I just haven’t enjoyed the stuff as much as I should, but my mother’s cancer has allowed me the chance to finally see me in her life process.  It’s odd irony that in her illness I have been able to find some direction and peace for myself.

To add depth to this story there is her fading memory and transition into dementia, which lead me to some meditation and reflection on my collections of mother memories.  Some twenty years ago we started to notice my mother retreating into place of depression and isolation.  There was no motivation to continue to grow and live.  She rarely produced any of the jewelry that she had stated that she wanted to make, and she would purchase equipment and supplies with abandon.

She just never made any art.  She did change her studio space, daily.  It was a large area, but it would change radically every day.  I still don’t know how she actually moved some of the larger items around the room.  As she scaled down, the space became a hybrid living room / studio space that underwent the same daily transformation.  I did not recognize what was happening but it became much more pronounced later, and I leaned towards just letting her be.  She wouldn’t go to talk to anyone, and I was avoiding the confrontation.

That was when I figured out her art.  Her life was her art.  Her space was her art. Her room. 

We were torn on how to deal with her changing the room everyday with no clear purpose, until that day I sat in her favorite chair.  I saw it.  I saw what she was creating with her seemingly disjointed daily activities.  The light shone through the window and I saw forms with depth, light and design.  Having helped her with many of her assignments and papers while she attended CCS, we have a base of shared knowledge that jumped out of my subconscious.

I could see her art clearly, which was really only meant to be viewed by one.

I can see that you’re confused with how this is related to food, but just work with me.  I’m getting there.  See, I am my mother’s child, which is a realization that I make kicking and screaming on several levels.  I love the song by Machine, “There But For The Grace of God,” but it seems that I might not be party to that grace.  I see it coming, but I am going to fight and, at the very least, prepare for it.

I have been showing some symptoms that are concerning, and I am addressing them now that I have made the connection between our conditions.  I am having some short term memory issues that have at time been significant, but they are treatable.  I do not have any indication how severe this may become, but I have a great chance of being able to control it with early intervention.

I have also found myself in endless loops that made no sense.  I change my room every day, too.  I have been working towards a goal that only I could see.  I alone know the beauty of the vision.  To the world it is a confused mass of activity.  With that, I realize that I must better curate my life.  Additionally, I have to put divine brush strokes to my life canvas with the deft hand of the masters.  I must create my personal greatest masterpiece, me…

So, this where the food thing comes in.

I am reminded of my days in the choir and singing about “perfect submission,” and I think that my best way forward requires that I do so.  I do a lot of stuff, and I am not going to stop doing them.  I am, however, going to pull back and relaunch the brand.  I am going to keep changing my room around, but I am going to do it with intent.  My vision is beautiful.  It’s just. It’s creative. It’s what I was raised to believe the way the world was meant to be with me in it.

To best serve this vision, I have to pull back and work on my life’s exhibit by properly documenting my amazing time in this world.  I must live a curated life.  I am going create my life art and sit back in my chair to gaze at it as I choose.  I will live on my terms.  I will take the tools of my art to create a piece that makes me happy while I can enjoy it.  I do a lot, maybe too much, so I am just going to relaunch my life with clear eyes and finally a goal.  I now know what I want to be when I grow up.

I want to be that piece of art that brings me joy to behold.

Oh yeah, the food!  Friday May 5, 2017, my journey gets a reboot from my driveway.

by Chef Phil Jones – Director, City Food Community Concepts, chefphiljones55@gmail.com, @ChefPhilJones – Twitter,

@TheDrive:way – Twitter, The Drive:way – Facebook