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  • And in the end
    The Love you take
    Is equal to the love you make

    For me, that is the simple concept upon which Cowbird is built. I figured this out about a week or two into my relationship with Cowbird. I really haven’t given that aspect of this relationship a whole lot of thought, since. In his last year with us, my Dad once shook his head and said, “I’m such a simple shit!” I think I’m like him in that regard. Just a simple shit.

    I have questioned a few other components of the set-up, most specifically the process for choosing “Story of the Day”, which leads one to becoming a “Master” when they have stories chosen twice or more for that honor. I quickly moved past that question, because it was completely irrelevant, and a little sideshow, to what Cowbird really is and means to me. As competitive as my nature is, I just had to remind myself that this is not a competition here – this is something far more genuine and authentic than all of that.

    I was told about Cowbird by my Executive Coach, whose husband came across it and thought that I would find it interesting. He’d heard Maureen talk about my passion for “Story-telling”. When I had gone through the Federal Executive Institute 4 years ago, where I had first met Maureen. She was my small group facilitator. Of the class of 72 executives, everyone seemed to enjoy my stories and I was dubbed the “Class Story-Teller”. One of the great lessons for me in that experience was how to integrate my story-telling into my leadership back on the job. When I got back on the job, within 6 months I applied his lesson to a presentation I found myself making at a Public Meeting and Listening Session held at the White House. Last year, Maureen and I co-led a workshop for executives on Story-Telling and Leadership at the Federal Executive Institute.

    So, when I got to Cowbird, I looked around real quick, read a few stories, decided I had the gist of it, and began posting some of my stories. I posted 38 stories in my first week on Cowbird. I was loving it. Most of these were stories, and poems, that I had previously written, but never really shared anywhere, with the exception of a few, most notably my first one, “Pete and Pete”. That one had gotten me inducted into baseball’s storied Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. I was absolutely thrilled when each story would get read and loved by 2 or 3 people, and then when a few people joined my audience, I was ecstatic.

    But, then it occurred to me – I should spend a little bit of time reading some other stories in here. I started with the people who had “loved” my stories, and as I read theirs, I liked what I read, so I “loved” them. I needed some way of figuring out what stories I would read, besides theirs. When I saw the most read and loved story-tellers under “People”, I looked at a couple of the stories there, and some were good, but I liked the ones who had been drawn to my stories even better. So, I figured, let me see whose stories they’re reading. And, I found that I liked most of the stories they were reading, and I started following some of the same story-tellers they were following. I also utilized the “Rising Story-tellers” link as a source for discovering other story-tellers. When I found a story-teller I liked a lot, I would go back through their catalogue of stories. I loved a lot of stories in this fashion. I’ve never loved a story that I didn’t read all the way through. I wouldn’t want someone doing that to me, so I don’t do it, either. I read it first, then decide whether I like or not, and click that love button if I found something genuine and authentic in the story. I don’t go too much for the cutesy, “oh look how clever I am” types of stories. They just don’t ring very authentic to me.

    Aside from that, I’ve never really given too much thought to my concept of “loving” other stories. I’m not a critic, here. I’ve never been a part of any professional writer’s association or writer’s guild or anything like that. I am, very simply, a story-teller , like my father before me, a story-teller who’s like a pig that’s fallen into a great, big pile of fresh, pungent shit. I’m loving it, man! I like telling stories. I appreciate a well-told story. If a story is told well in 3 sentences and has a great picture, I show my appreciation by loving it. I tend to like the longer stories, as mine are usually longer, and am not focused quite as much on the pictures as the story itself.

    I love the fact that I’m connected, through Cowbird, to Story-tellers from all over the world. I have discovered that you are dealing with many of the same issues in Iceland, Northern Ireland, England, South Africa, South America, and Australia, that I am dealing with here in the United States of America. Cowbird has made the world a much smaller place for me. I love that!

    Granted, I have found that I am a bit more selective in what I choose to read and love than I was, at first. Because of the exponential nature of things, I did quickly find that I couldn’t read everything that popped up for me to read, once I was in a number of audiences. I needed some sort of a filter. So, I sort of prioritized, in my mind, which authors I found I tended to like reading more than others, and I would always read their stories first. I would try to eventually read everything, but I did it in this priority order. Still do.

    I also make it a habit of, at least once or twice a week, checking out the Newcomers. I love that there’s a way to do that. A few of you were looking out for me when I first got here, and reading and loving my work before I had figured out how to make more connections with others, on my own. I try to make sure that I do the same thing. That is the most important thing one learns in a 12 Step program, is to always be mindful of the newcomer. Once you get recovery yourself, that is the reason you continue to go to meetings, to help out the newcomer.

    So, I look out for the newcomers here, and show them some love and give them an audience for starters. I don’t do this blatantly. They have to be genuine story-tellers. Not good writers. Good story-tellers. There are so many in here, I can’t keep up with them all, but if enough of us are looking out for each other, I don’t need to. I really don’t worry too much about that, either. The system seems to work.
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