Ara Gureghian is 70 years old. Of Armenian descent, born in France, Ara studied at Institut International de Glion Sur Montreux culinary school in Switzerland before moving to the US. Once here, he started and ran his own restaurant and a wholesale bakery. He has never felt comfortable working for others and early on decided to be self-employed.
After closing his bakery and restaurant, he became a private personal chef, specializing in elegant dinners for 10 – 15 guests. His clients had the resources to fly Ara all over the globe to work his culinary magic in their homes and yachts. These were Ara’s glory days. Wonderful meals, appreciative patrons, lots of travel. After each meticulously prepared meal, Ara always came away with ideas to make his next assignment even better.
Long hours and an unwavering dedication to his craft cost Ara his marriage. Working round the clock and staying married were ultimately not compatible. Now single, Ara had one son, Lance.
Lance was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away at the youthful age of 26. Lance’s death hit Ara like a ton of bricks. By his own admission, he was not pleasant to be around, and people did not enjoy his company. Grieving his lost son, realizing a mindful change was needed and having nothing else left to lose, he sold what little he owned and hit the road.
His vehicle of choice: a BMW motorcycle with a sidecar. His sidecar passenger was his buddy Spirit, a rescue dog with a heart big enough for both of them.
The years passed. The man and his dog always on the road, always camping out. Often away from people for weeks at a time. Ara maintains an online journal, an outlet for his feelings of loss and questions about the universe, perhaps a thin lifeline to the rest of humanity, his own personal therapy.
He is awash in his grief and his anger and finds it harder to grab life by the horns. Spirit knows nothing except unconditional love. One day in Montana, he runs over his phone, adding a few more drops into his reservoir of anger. That same afternoon, after tracking down a replacement, he checks his email.
There he finds a note from a grieving mother. She has just lost her three children and their babysitter in an automobile accident. She writes Ara that reading his online journal is the only aspect of life that has kept her going. Ara’s dam breaks, the reservoir of pent-up anger flows out like water onto parched earth.
Ara’s attitude makes a U-turn. He has a new point of view, a positive outlook. Not regardless of his loss, but because of his loss. He is surprised to suddenly feel that there is no alternative to a positive point of view.
For ten more years and hundreds of thousands of miles, Spirit and Ara travel the west, enjoying the wide-open spaces and starry nights. Nature is his mistress, riding a motorcycle his drug of choice. Journaling, taking photographs, reading. Enjoying solitude and the love of his dog.
Today Ara lives in a small house on the north side of Alamogordo, NM. Spirit passed in April of 2018 and he grieves for his lost buddy. He still loves to cook and is teaching himself to make Sushi at the same atmospheric level that he applies to anything related to food.
He has had a hip replacement, screws and a plate in his spine and has an incredibly upbeat attitude. His passion for escaping into nature is as strong as ever, pulling him out to explore the vast public lands that are in his backyard. He is quick to laugh and tells me, “Enjoy the day. We don’t know what tomorrow will be like, life is so uncertain.”
Ara has written a couple of books and has three websites. His old Private Personal Chef site, his journal and a newer blog about New Mexico. Check them out. You’ll find plenty of interest, some great recipes and hundreds of beautiful images.
As a professional chef, Ara wore custom shoes and orthotics. From early on, he understood the importance of a strong foundation. Now, with hardware in his body, the need for support and alignment is more important than ever.
He has tried all manner of insoles and inserts to meet his needs and has settled on Tread Labs as his insole of choice. He stepped from a pan of water onto his wooden deck to determine his arch height (the wet test) and says he couldn’t get around without the support the insoles provide.
Our conversation is coming to an end. I explain that I would like to tell his story. That I want to find ways to bring people together, create more community. He ends our conversation with, “Of course. The whole aspect comes down to one common denominator – sharing.”