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reflection

We’re Not Always Meant to Understand

4032 3024 Austin Barrow

We're Not Always Meant to Understand

A large red arch hovers over the Amphitheater construction site this morning pumping concrete into several future foundation locations. It causes one to ponder why concrete must move up forty feet to fall forty feet before dropping six feet into the ground. It would seem like going directly into the hole might be a more efficient and economical way of delivering the product needed for the solution. However, there are obviously properties at play here that we do not understand.

 

Sometimes we must simply have faith that there are answers we are not always meant to understand.

I find this to be true in many instances in life. You are presented with an interesting or unexpected condition where the solution seems to be a simple and obvious one upon first glance, but upon further investigation you learn that you might not know as much as you think you know. A law of physics, man or God gives you reason to pause.

It turns out that it’s actually faster, and more economical to use the large articulating boom arm of a concrete pump than a traditional on site mix station or mixing transport truck. With the boom they can reach any specific point within a radius of the arm, which looks to be in excess of one hundred feet long from where I’m sitting. On a site like ours, where there are multiple trades, multiple contractors and several different individual projects all working at the same time, the best solution is the one that at first seems unconventional, but is actually the industry standard.

Orthodoxy is an interesting phenomenon in our daily experience. A pastor of mine once told a story of a mother that sliced the ends off of a ham before she cooked it for a family holiday. When questioned by her young daughter why she did it, she answered, “Because that was the way I was taught!” This question rolled over to an aunt, up to a grandmother and finally landed in the great-grandmother’s lap. Each answer had been the same until that final ask, where the young girl’s great-grandmother responded, “So it would fit in the pan.”

I was hit again on Monday with another instance of misunderstanding when I lost one of my grandfathers. He was a humble and hardworking man that always took on problems with his head up and a look of curiosity in his eye. The moment after he left us we all looked around the room at one another in silence, and you could see the question of “why” floating in the air. Sometimes we must simply have faith that there are answers we are not always meant to understand.

So, no matter the oddity, irregularity or unfamiliar let’s all face the unusual with our head up, a smile on our face and curious spirit because however obvious the answer might be, you might not know what you think you know.

Stepping Off the Precipice

4032 3024 Austin Barrow

Stepping Off the Precipice

I remember standing in a park in Newport Beach California almost ten years ago to the day. I was staring at my mother and wife, who were sitting under a tree with about 1,200 other people, all of which were looking at me alone on a grassy plane. I was performing the role of Benedict in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. If you are familiar with the play, I was about to begin the monologue in the garden where the character mocks the silliness of those poor souls who fall in love. I had never felt fear like that before.

 

I stepped off the precipice and embraced the fear.

I had performed in front of large crowds, had been performing that particular monologue for more than 10 years, having learned it under the tutelage of Delaine Gates in drama classes at the El Dorado High School. This was, however, my first time to ever perform the role in it’s entirety, and I had only been allowed a single day of rehearsal with the cast. One week earlier, the director of the play asked if I could fill in for the actor cast in the role due to a scheduling conflict. Now, I found myself with more than two thousand eyes staring at me in complete silence.

They say that you can condition yourself to dealing with all kinds of uncomfortable and difficult situations, pains and ailments. You see athletes that can stretch their bodies beyond what seem to be normal physical limitations or endurance athletes that bike and run for extreme lengths. I once saw a street performer that could burn just about any part of his body and leave no visible mark. Regular conditioning allows us to move beyond our assumed limitations of self, and I was standing on the precipice of my fear at that very moment.

Every time I have to speak to a group, small or large I think back on that cool summer night in a park in southern California. What’s the worst that could have happened? I could have fainted, run off the stage in hysterics or started speaking incoherent mumblings as I slowly backed away from the masses. Luckily, none of those things came to pass.

I stepped off the precipice and embraced the fear. I locked eyes with my wife and love of my life and got back to work. Amazingly, it was the most exhilarating experience I have ever had in a performance. There is really nothing like having a crowd hang on your every word, waiting for you to tell them a story. They giggled and they laughed and most importantly they listened.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure to present the future of the El Dorado Arts & Entertainment District to the commission responsible for the El Dorado Works Tax funds. I looked around at those there in support and those of whom I was requesting support. The excitement and anticipation of what we are building could be seen in their faces, and I am happy to say they also listened and the message was heard loud and clear. The City of El Dorado is undergoing a large cultural change and I look forward to standing on this new stage and sharing the message of what is coming.

It’s Been Five Years

3024 4032 Austin Barrow

It's Been Five Years

May must be the month of anniversaries. Perhaps others will assign this label to another month of the year, but I can’t think of a more active month for celebrating, or attempting to forget landmark dates. I can attach graduations, movings, new jobs, leaving jobs, and I even have a large number of friends and acquaintances with birthdays and wedding anniversary celebrations in the month of May.

Not only is renovating the equivalence of six city blocks amazing and crazy, it’s also transformative …

I’m going to blame this occurrence on the school year, at least in my case. Having been a professor for a number of years and graduated three times from three different schools, I can tie many of my major moves in life to the school calendar. One might label me a gypsy as I have now lived in 15 different homes since graduating from high school 20 years ago, and no I can’t help you pack this weekend. In fact, I have now lived in El Dorado longer than any other city since striking out on my own. I guess I like it here.

Anniversaries are an interesting type of celebration because they tend to be a time for reflection. I’m sure my 20 year class reunion this summer will be filled with stories that start with, “Remember when …” Although we may not talk about it with friends, it’s also a time of introspection. It’s a point in time that we can logically measure and grade our progress towards whatever goals we have set in life. Perhaps those goals have been achieved, or have changed, but nevertheless I can guarantee that time has moved on.

I now have a new ticking clock with construction an ever present reminder outside my window. The beeping warning signals of reversing equipment and occasional large thud as a load of masonry or concrete lands in the back of a truck. I must admit, that I am looking forward to celebrating the anniversary of it’s completion with everyone, but that date is still some time away. I’ve never understood how a five year anniversary can seem like yesterday and a date 2 years in the future seems like forever?

So, it’s been five years since moving back to my hometown, and beginning work on the city’s Arts & Entertainment District. In that time I have heard some amazing comments when I tell people what I do every day. The top three however are, “you’re doing what”, “that’s amazing”, and “are you crazy?” My answer to all of the above, by the way, is always yes. Not only is renovating the equivalence of six city blocks amazing and crazy, it’s also transformative and in many ways cathartic. Believe me, I’ve had five years to think about it.