This is my friend, Melake:
This is my friend, Martin:
Every Wednesday morning during college, Melake would creep into Martin’s closet, after Martin had left for class, and assemble his favorite Martin outfit to wear all day. Melake called this weekly ritual, Martin Miercoles. Because alliterations are the best.
Our junior year, Martin had gone home a few days early for Thanksgiving. Our friend, Patrick, also a frequent Martin Miercoles-er and Martin’s roommate, let Melake into their room. Melake cooly set up Martin’s camera on Martin’s tripod, used Martin’s record player to provide a very Martin soundtrack (Wilco and Arcade Fire), then began his Martin parade:
Eventually, Martin found the photos on his camera and posted them all on Facebook. It’s still my favorite use of social media sharing.
Like my good pal, Schmidty, Melake’s a creative hero of mine even though I know he doesn’t consider himself creative. But he is. Wildly so. He’s a Prince of Play. He’s very shy and guarded—until he’s not. His creative brilliance stems from his ability to scan his environment—patiently, sensorially, receptively—before reacting. And when he does react, it’s with gusto and a distinctly British sense of humor. He’s the love child of Monty Python and Dave Chapelle. When he flips the switch from sensitive audience member to intentional performer, he raises his eyebrows, dons a shit-eating grin, and goes.
He replaces light bulbs with empty Natural Light beer cans and insists that the room has so much more natural light now, man. He randomly meows at people who don’t know him. He sends friends coconuts in the mail – with the address taped onto the actual coconut. He often pretends to eat like a horse. At Niagra Falls, he asks, Where’s the beach, man?
His intuitiveness crowds out any self-judgement. His bright instinct is louder than any critical analysis. He’s soft-spoken but has the highest Joke Batting Average of anyone I know. For the baseball nerds reading this, Melake’s comedy production is like a power-hitting pinch-hitter who only gets 75 plate appearances a year but whose stats still improbably read: 27 homers, nine triples, five doubles, 16 singles, six walks, 12 strikeouts—a .760 batting average, an .840 OBP, a 2.147 slugging, and a 2.99 OPS. He’s not an everyday player not because he lacks the talent but because he might disappear for weeks at a time. (He once did disappear. Our senior spring, he went off the grid to finish his architecture thesis. No one saw him for two weeks. He wasn’t reachable. Then at 4:30am, the day before his thesis was due, he texted us that he was racing the Middlebury half-marathon —in four hours—and that our friend “Mac is going down!!! You SLOW POKE! See you at the finish line suckaaaaaaaaa!” Melake hadn’t run in a month. He hadn’t slept in a week. But he beat Mac. And won the whole race. And almost set the course record. And it was mostly just to cause a scene over a group text.)
The other day, Melake sent me this amazing Bill Watterson graduation speech from 1990. I resonated with the recurring school nightmare theme. And I deeply resonated with this quote:
Shutting off the thought process is not rejuvenating; the mind is like a car battery-it recharges by running.
We get stuck when we wait. We get stuck when we’re passive (creative) consumers. We get stuck from inaction—not from bad ideas.
Here’s to perpetually recharging our car batteries. Here’s to Melake. And here’s to waiting while observing but not waiting to create.
I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.—Rainer Maria Rilke