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  • This was my grandmother's machete. She called it a corn knife, as she used it to harvest corn from her immigrant family's sharecropper land in Illinois. It is laden with tomes of work ethic, humility, self-determination, rawness and sacrifice. My first machete came from Costa Rica, bought when I lived briefly and suddenly in the jungle, and toted back to Ohio because I liked the idea of building myself a life in which surprise jungles might appear again and I would be ready. Also, holding a machete makes you feel like a badass. Yet it's my grandmother's machete that I brought to California. Tools for the jungles I traipse in these days are softer-edged, but the paths forward can nonetheless be hard to see—and forward is forever daunting. Still, I am kind of relentless. Holding this machete reminds me that I strive to craft a life of greatness, and traversing it should be an adventure. And there are roots under me, holding the earth in place while I work through stalks and branches.
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