“You’re doing it again,” I heard from behind my camera. “Appreciating instead of participating.”

My shutter snapped.

“I just took a thousand food shots,” I retorted. “I did my participating. Now I’m appreciating.”

The camera refocused on the speaker, my roommate/coworker/expertly hip friend Claudia who was carefully intertwining white yarn with black. I took another picture, this time of her.


“What do you mean?”

I swung the Canon around, capturing the expression of the second inquirer in a blurry, unfocused shot.

“We had this discussion yesterday,” I explained. “I think all of you are so talented and I am always just blown away by the things you create–”

“And you totally disregard that you can create things, too,” interrupted Claudia from behind her loom. “Stop selling yourself short.”

I took in the view of the room around me . We were crashing the living room of one of our good friends who was out of town. ‘House sitting,’ we called it, but we really were just taking up space. I was taking advantage of his kitchen, snapping blog photos for one of the sites I contribute to (the lovely Pravasana).

Seated by the biggest window in the room, our resident leathercrafter had set up his station and was saddlestitching a cover for his Field Notes. On the wicker couch Claudia was weaving, yarn all over the place.



It was a dim October morning out, the sky pleasantly cloudy. A cold breeze laden with the heavy, sweet smell of fallen leaves stirred the air from an open window. The moody strains of Daughter played from the kitchen, where I had been happily in the zone snapping shots of seasonal foods against a big butcher block.


Claudia was right, of course. I was appreciating instead of participating.

But what a thing to appreciate!

In a strange room filled with artifacts from far-flung regions of the world on a brisk October afternoon, I sat with some of the foremost movers and shakers of the millennial generation.


I used to think the reason I was enamored with everything they did was because they were my friends, people I wanted to support regardless of their ambitions.

But through the seasons as we all grew, I began to realize the way they poured intention into every single thing they did — every latte pour, every stitch, every strand, every note — with relentless pursuit was unusual. They were taking their best talents and honing in on them, artfully using their crafts to further their community and build connections.


We are all given different talents, different abilities. For my closest friends, that means craft coffee, weaving, handlettering, writing, leathercrafting, music. For some, that may mean designing skyscrapers. For me, that means cooking, eating, taking notes. It seems small.

Is it, though? If I take every single incredible moment that I spend doing what I love and use it as much as I can to the best of my abilities, I can be just as effective as the guy who builds skyscrapers. I may not contribute to the city skyline, but I can fill the stomachs and memories of those that view it.

Maybe my little talents can be turned into big things.

Maybe your little talents can, too.

  • Side note: Trey, if you end up seeing this, sorry we crashed your house. We left it cleaner than when we arrived. Also, I bought you some paper towels.

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