Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Dan Wikiera has won our Essay writing contest on the theme of The Fools Journey with his piece "I Am the Fool."
Lifelong Kansas City resident. Lifelong reader. Lifelong writer. This is my first foray into public writing.
It started as a whisper. A vague notion. A desire to open my own business, be my own boss. Create something from nothing. The American ideal, like white picket fences and apple pie. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what. Or that I didn’t have any experience. I had the desire, the work ethic. I was naïve.
I decided on bread. A bakery. I learned the trade, scheduled meetings, applied for loans, scouted locations, quit my job. Goodbye corporate America. Hello freedom.
In the beginning, I loved it all. I was building something. The long hours, hard work didn’t bother me. I was young, indestructible. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I faked my way through it. Even the baking. Sometimes the bread didn’t come out right, and I didn’t know exactly why. Bread is tricky. It could have been any number of things: temperature, humidity, proofing, baking. I failed more times than I could count.
5,000 hours. 10,000 hours. Now I’m an expert. 15,000 hours. I can do it in my sleep. 20,000 hours. Mixing, kneading, rolling, shaping, rising, baking. Mixing, kneading, rolling, shaping, rising, baking. Like breathing. It’s not a hobby, not a job, it’s a bodily function. I live it. I am the bread.
I am not the business owner. I fell out of love, slowly, but surely. The emails, marketing, hiring, training, emails, repairs, accounting, emails, emails, emails. I thought I could do it all. But I’m not a business owner. I’m a baker. I’m a fool.