"To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes." The words of Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa have long been a part of how I move through the world. It has made for an intense, beautiful, and traumatic journey—a metamorphosis that happens on a continuum, casting memory back, altering stories, and defining my present. Time is a circle, as is forgiveness, growth, humility, and confidence. To be an artist, and simply human, is to see the lifecycle and reemergence of all these things—simultaneously a participant and a witness.
This space is sacred to me, and I felt a deep quake at its edges recently when I read letters written by Karen Caplan and Alex Jackson of Frieda’s Branded Produce—a mother and a daughter, both truth seekers—which we published on AndNowUKnow. Karen posted “A letter to my 30-year-old self” in her blog—thirty being the age at which she happened to become President of Frieda’s. Alex deepened that conversation after the “Karen’s Plate” post, sharing a letter in which she revealed and reflected on her own personal journey—how a few core years crystallized a new path for her with self-love, wisdom, and courage as its centripetal force.
Much of what we do here at The Snack is find how the stories of our pasts echo into the present and the future. At this moment in my life, I feel this as a kind of reckoning and also a gift. Many of the companies in this issue know themselves well, know where they have been and, because of this, where they are going—companies like LIV Organic™ Produce, Jasmine Vineyards, and more.
Speaking to my team in the wake of such stories, we find a sense of solidity in our histories by looking back—not as an anchor but as an essential step in order to move forward. I asked them what advice would have proven a welcome enlightenment earlier on, had we all had the experience and foresight to grasp it. As a writing team with ages ranging from 24 to 40, it is amazing how retrospect brings us even closer together.
I believe we all share a kinship across the many lessons that took root at our table. From Lilian Diep, speaking about the ability to ask herself “What do you want?” and truly being able to distill the answer to Anne Allen echoing Karen’s lesson that she wishes she had felt more strongly that it was okay to not be concerned, first, with being liked—it’s better to be yourself. Anne’s sentiment was matched wholly by Peggy Packer, who reflected that it is more fulfilling to worry less about being the best. Instead, just be whoever you feel like being.
Jenna Plasterer, always inspired by the great songwriters of the century, quoted Janis Joplin who said, “Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.”
And we have all, men and women alike, at least come across the pressure of the “married+kids” timeline we impose on ourselves or that others help us to do. As Melissa De Leon Chavez shares, at 25 she felt she was officially too old to be “young and dumb,” too old to take risks and make mistakes and then have time to learn from them. Melissa’s advice? Listen to this older version: You are still plenty young, with runway to spare, and what you were told defined success does not make it your success. As a woman of 40, I agree.
That flowed beautifully into our Chandler James, who encircled all the advice we could give ourselves with, “You have plenty of time to accomplish your goals; slow down and enjoy being a kid.”
For me, I would slough off the rugged exterior of my expectations at 30 and share a healthy helping of levity and self-compassion. Practice resilience and curiosity, and stop trying to get from one side of discomfort to the other so quickly. Listen more and talk less. Find stillness. And remember, as Rumi said it best, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”