Hopefully you always remember, but if you forget, here’s a reminder. It’s totally normal to wonder how strong you actually are and how much you can actually take. In all these newly shaped hours and minutes it crosses my mind more than occasionally. We are seeing history unfold. It’s all very big. There is no weird or undue reaction at this point. Have at it. Freak it out.
Then come back.
That’s what Holger and I find ourselves doing these days as we hold down the factory / fortress here in Silverlake. It’s been a while since we did everything ourselves. Rediscovering the hard labor that goes into making things by ourselves again has been a valuable thing. It seems like old times. Apparently, we still got it. Yay!!! At least.
There’s something calming about repetitive work. I’ve secretly always liked it. Like hefting 120lb bolts of felt onto tables, or heat pressing hundreds of felt pieces, at exactly 360 degrees, for exactly 30 seconds each. It takes hours. Besides exhausting us enough to sleep at night, it gives our minds time to flow, to recheck what we think we know and how all that is supposed to work for planning an unsettled future.
One of the things we think about is how we are fortunate to keep this place going. There’s only one reason. A great team of people built us a system that has fortified us. That system exists because there is a network of people on the ground who have not only cheered us on, they have invested themselves with amazing and measurable results. Like the result that we are still here and that we can probably still take some punches. The hard work of many stores and reps has given us that. Whatever happens from here on, we are eternally grateful to you.
Graf Lantz has seen a lot in its 11 years. Nothing like the historic time we are all in now, but anyone who runs a business knows what I mean. You go through stuff. Same yuck, different details. You often wonder what you’re made of. Then you get past it for the next one. Although now glaringly subjective, our times of trial have always been buttressed with bits of wisdom we’ve picked up along the way, and It has pushed us through. This time is mostly no different.
I grew up surrounded by cool people with old bodies, young minds and long memories. Any 80 or 90 year old is gonna have stories about life-changing hard times. It’s always worth a listen. So, I’ve always listened. For example, the hardships of war are unfathomable. It’s fascinating to hear what those who experienced it thought then, how they made it through, what they see looking back and what they’ve taken from it. They are my heroes. I have idolized them as my personal greatest generation, as somehow stronger, tougher, smarter, wiser or better than me, better than all of us, for getting through it. Recently that perspective has evolved. They are not the only heroes.
It started to change during one of the suddenly more frequent calls to Japan with Sumiko. I mentioned how I miss her potato salad. We chuckled. She hasn’t eaten a potato for 75 years. But she knows hers is a hard favorite of mine, so she pinches her nose and makes it whenever I show up at her door. After the war, potatoes were all there was to eat for a year. Hard times leave their marks. I made some comment about how I hope people today were strong like her. Then I got an ear full.
She said it’s always strange to hear of her generation as heroes. She said it’s better for us to know they didn’t feel like heroes then. She said the doubt and fear and confusion and upheaval felt the same as now. Everyone was scared. Everyone was trapped. Nobody knew what was next. Nobody could make a plan.
She doesn’t remember any specific thing they did to end it. They just did what they knew. They took it day by day. They shared, they improvised, they worked together. Nobody saw the end of it. But the end did come, little by little until one day it was the past. Her point is that they were not stronger or smarter than we are. From her perspective, we have what it takes. We just don’t know it yet. I like that. I can believe in that. She’s usually right about these things. She’s certainly seen enough to be right about this one.
I don’t have the answers, yet. I don’t know how to help those who have helped us so much, yet. But I have hope to share from a past generation. It tells me we have no choice. It‘s our turn to find out what we are made of and become the next great generation. We have what it takes. We look forward to making the trek and figuring it out with you.
Daniel and Holger.