Sunday 3/10/19

Sunday 3/10/19

March 10, 2019

On Sundays I reflect.

I didn't drink alcohol this week. I'll turn 29 one week from today. I decided to quit drinking the day after my 28th birthday last year when I woke up in Brooklyn. I think I was still hungover at the airport two days later, but I'll save the rest of that story for next week. It's not an easy subject for me to write about.

I'm not going to write about the feet of powder I've been riding, or the avalanches surrounding us here in the Valley. I will say that there is no feeling like putting my phone on airplane mode and sending it into a white oblivion for a few hours or a full day. Time doesn't exist out there.

Every single day I run Drinking Vessels by myself and I work around the clock. From blowing glass, to running the studio, making sales, packing and sending orders and tracking numbers, and every errand in between. The only time I turn my phone off is when I snowboard, and even then I only do airplane mode to save battery life for my music. If my battery would last out there and endure the cold without dying every time I probably wouldn't turn work off on the hill, but circumstances force me to. I think it's necessary to have another outlet, and a space where I can let go of work even if it's only because I have to. Snowboarding is a purely recreational hobby. It's one of the only serious cardio activities I do any more, and I think I spend more time smiling and laughing than any other time in my life.

For me, being 28 was primarily about giving up alcohol while maintaining my business and my sanity. I have big plans for 29, and the primary objective is to spend more time on the torch. Since 2019 started I've already been blowing glass more than I did in 2018. Now that the business is running and the studio is fully operational I have less to worry about and more time (and resources) to blow glass. My graphic designer JCost is starting to help with more of the administrative work and plans to move here this summer to step it up. This should allow me a lot more time on the torch, which I'm looking forward to more than anything.

In the past I've had a hard time committing myself to things. Glass has been the longest commitment of my life, at right around 9 years now. I got off to a slow start with glass, like it took me years to be comfortable touching it. I was afraid of getting burned or cut, and I was afraid of breaking glass and equipment. I hope that once everything is running without me that I have the motivation and self discipline to put in another 10,000 hours of glass blowing and try to master the medium.

It's funny. I took a break from writing this to check my phone, and Facebook showed me the photo I've attached from 5 years ago today. I've also attached a photo of two cups I made a few days ago. The funny thing is that i remember how hard I tried to make those cups identical five years ago. Then the other day I casually made two scalloped cups and without any planning they came out pretty darn close. What an experience glass has provided me, to literally track my progress with tangible objects.

I made that first pair of cups at Volta Glass Studio in Bloomington, Indiana. Huffy was my teacher, and damn did that dude put up with a lot of my shit. After I graduated college and decided to stay in Bloomington working with glass full time, I moved into a "co-op". It was a dilapidated house across the parking lot from the studio. In the six months I lived there with 15 other people we did not have a kitchen and shared one bathroom (installed weeks after I moved in). My bedroom window was a hole in the second floor wall, with no actual glass window. Huffy and his wife couldn't watch me live like that so they gave me their guest room, fed me, and provided me with an opportunity to really try to make it work with glass. Those goblets were made shortly before I flew to New York City for a wedding of a very special friend of mine and decided not to take my flight back to Indiana. I spent a year, homeless in New York with no money but enough good friends that I didn't have to sleep outside. I commuted 4-5 hours a day to Long Island to blow glass and Brooklyn to rehearse with my band. I ran 2-10 miles a day because I couldn't afford the subway.

I look forward to being able to look back on this day five years from now. I wonder what kind of pair of cups will come out to join their predecessors. Five years is a long time.

This rant got pretty long winded. Over the week I have all these thoughts about what should go in my Sunday Reflections. Usually none of that stuff gets included because I go pretty stream of consciousness here. Here are a few arbitrary thoughts before I wrap this up and get on with my day.

I'm very concerned about the current political climate. There is a fearful amount of division and hatred that I see, and I'm not excited to watch it develop. In regards to that, I wish Hunter was still around to spit his two cents into the arena. I've got a sticker in my studio "WWHSTD" and I often ask myself "What Would Hunter S. Thompson Do". There was a time when I aspired to answer that question by fulfilling whatever I thought the great doctor may have done. I'm not sure that at my most reckless I was anywhere near his tame side, but he'll always be an inspiration to me in some kind of way. I call my studio Bat Country in his homage, and you'll find him incorporated into much of the artwork there.

“The Edge... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others - the living - are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between now and later. But the edge is still out there.” - Hunter S. Thompson

When artists or entrepreneurs ask me for advice, they're usually caught up on the same step. Starting. A lot of people talk about their vision and what they want. The ones who cross over the edge, who submit themselves fully to the process whatever that means for them, that is what it takes. That's what I always tell them. I didn't get here waiting around or putting my energy into anything other than my vision. I got lucky and won a raffle in college on 4/20 for a bong and met the guys who made it and learned to blow glass and refused to quit. That's the simplified story. In all reality I've come close to quitting a number of times, and I've been working my ass off trying to improve as a glass blower while also running multiple businesses and taking on debt to bring my vision to life. If you believe in what you're doing, taking that leap of faith should be easy. It's the work that comes after, which is most difficult.

Thanks for tuning in,
Ben


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