See the Whole Picture

More than a week ago John and I headed South for a race and then followed it up with a few days of adventuring around North Carolina and Tennessee. As usual when we take trips like this John has all our excursions mapped out. This time, however, I had one to add. We’ve had this trip planned for several months so one night in January I was thinking about things we could do and I stumbled across a story about Hole Doughnuts in Asheville, NC. The doughnuts are made to order every day until they are gone. Each day there are four flavors to choose from and they’ll fry up your breakfast delight right in front of you.

Photo credit: Maximillian Upp

We rolled into Hole Doughnuts, which is the tiniest little establishment, on Monday morning. It appears to either be fashioned from reclaimed wood or the building itself was already there and restored. I didn’t think to ask so it’s a guess. The whole place is basically one open room so you can see the doughnuts being fried up right in front of your very wide eyes and drooling mouth.
The parking lot even smells like sugar. Already a great start to the day.

On the day we arrived, we were greeted by a smiling and cheerful soul who between stanzas of “I Got You Babe” told us about the flavors of the day and welcomed us warmly.

We ordered our doughnuts, seven to be exact, cause well… doughnuts!

I got some yummy coffee and continued to inhale the dream that was freshly frying doughnuts. All the while, two of the employees I could see (although they frequently referred to someone else in a side room) were singing along to music that sounded like it was coming from a transistor radio. There was no rush because, you know, doughnuts take as long as they take to cook. Everyone seemed happy to wait for their piping fresh and hot delectables. I sure was.

I was enamored with how happy these two were and also singing with full joy and glee. They were childlike in their demeanor and it was refreshing.

We got our doughnuts and as we headed out we were brightly instructed to eat them soon while they were still hot. We got to the car and proceeded to dig in and HOT, HOT, HOT were the doughnuts. We actually had to wait a couple of minutes to dive in. They were that hot.

Anyway, while sitting in the car I thought I really need to tell these people how enjoyable they were. There was a time where I would’ve blown that instinct off. I would’ve thought that it was silly or worried what they would think.

The delightful and talented souls at Hole Doughnuts

Not on this day. I went running back in to thank them for their joy and happiness and how happy it made me and asked if I could take their picture. Holy Doughnuts, they were even further bolstered in their joy. We hugged it out. I took their photo and I left feeling even better. When someone brings you joy, it’s good to reflect it back to them by saying so.

There is value in naming it even when it may seem obvious. There’s value in telling others that they have just made your whole darn day. And they did. I proceeded to talk about these folks and these doughnuts for another 20 minutes (OK maybe 40) and John listened (tolerated it).

It really made me think that our culture has sold us down the river on what it means to have a fulfilling, meaningful life. These employees were living their best life in that moment. I don’t know anything about them, their struggles, their pain or their peace. But I do know that there was gratification in a job well done; in a job done with love. I have often equated higher education, a big stressful job/life with somehow arriving — having made it. I am starting to question that in many ways. Yes, education is wonderful but can’t I do that in the context of fun, too? Having a job that offers me the opportunity to do amazing things is fantastic but can’t I do that with love and peace, too?

Having work/life balance may be a myth but only because we are looking at it from the wrong end of the kaleidoscope. Life is work and work is life. It’s all the same thing. So if you hate your work, you kinda hate your life. And if you hate your life, you’ll by extension be hating on your work. I am in a revamping process of my life. I am asking questions of the things I never previously questioned. I ask myself multiple times every day, why do I do this? Is it making me happy? If the answer is no, it goes further. Is it making me unhappy because I am approaching it that way or I just really don’t want to be doing this anymore? Am I doing this for all the wrong reasons?

These seem like easy questions to answer but they are not so don’t always take the first answer that pops up. Sit with it, see what shows up.

It’s like last Thursday, I was at the BMV to get my driver’s license renewed and it was shaping up to be a classic experience that we all like to share/torture ourselves with. I could feel myself falling into the trap. Then I thought to myself, is this miserable or am I just making it miserable? I promptly looked at the person behind me who was wearing an Ohio State University Animal Sciences shirt and asked, “What’s happening in Animal Sciences today?” And you know what, she told me. We chatted about graduation and such and my experience got a whole lot better.

See the whole doughnut, not just what you think is missing in the middle.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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