The art of slowing down
Riley Starr, the founder of flir—a cannabis company specializing in cannabis-infused chocolate and bottled tea—noticed that something human was missing from business, instigated by busy-ness. “There has been a trend over a couple of hundred years of moving away from craftsmanship and towards manufacturing. They have always existed together but it’s currently out of balance.”
Starr, who was a carpenter and brewmaster before trying his hand as a chocolatier, describes himself as a “Jack of all trades; master of none.” The romantic notion of being consumed by one’s passion, and carrying it forward with precision and insight, is infused into his work. For him, beauty is expressed as the energy one puts into creating something for others. That’s why he describes his culinary endeavors as a type of “love language,” and why he refuses to compromise on craftsmanship.
It’s not what we have but what we enjoy that constitutes our abundance. These words were spoken by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus around 307 BC. His followers would come to believe that a good life is one without pain, and the best way to avoid pain is to avoid unnecessary desires, such as longing for that which we do not have. This state of mind is called “ataraxia,” which is freedom from worry, often translated as “inner tranquility.” It is no wonder that beauty affects us so deeply. Slowing down in the rush of our busy lives to be overcome by a moment of gratitude is to be reminded that being present is enough. Beauty is common. When we welcome it into our lives, it acts as a mirror that reflects a sense of abundance.
“I realized the more I knew about individual pursuits, the more I noticed commonalities,” says Starr, reflecting on how molding chocolate is like casting metals or working with wood. “A theory of everything starts to emerge in your mind and it feels like you have a broader view of the world and a bit more understanding of how it all works.”
But Starr didn’t stop there; he wasn’t interested in edibles merely for the sake of acquiring a new skill, he wanted to be part of redefining “stoner culture” too. He wanted a hand in shaping the identity and aesthetics around cannabis as it emerged from the shadows into the mainstream—to share new ideas of what it could be, a desire which stemmed from his own experiences with the plant.
“Cannabis has done good things in my life, like helping me work through my anxieties,” he says. “I want to create an avenue where people can have a beautiful experience with edibles. Cannabis helps me find a deeper appreciation for the things I already love. It opens me up. I’m more spontaneous and less self-censoring. I want to share that experience in a way that’s just as meaningful for others.”
According to Epicurus, peace of mind is gained by appreciating what one has. He warned against overindulgence because overindulgence often leads to wanting more (or in the case of edibles, maybe getting a little too high), and a state of want is not a state of wholeness.
“I think it’s really powerful that weed is going mainstream because in a lot of ways we need it more than ever right now,” says Starr, who enjoys a bite of infused chocolate before taking long bike rides to his favorite parks in the city. “Sometimes, we need an invitation or permission to slow. When the experience of cannabis is at its best, it allows you to exist a little bit outside of yourself and a little bit outside of time too.”
It is often when we slow down that we see beauty. It does not need to be sought, only noticed. If life is beautiful, then flir pairs well with life.