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  • “And here I sit so patiently, trying to find out what price
    You have to pay to get out of
    Going through all of these things twice..”

    Bob Dylan, from “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again”

    Hear it here: http://vimeo.com/25499686

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    Those couple of lines from one of my favorite Dylan songs comprise part of my answer to the question:

    “Why do you write?”

    Writing is the price I pay. From as early on as I can remember, I have always been up for trying new things. It is a characteristic I have mostly loved about myself. I say yes to life. I like to make friends with people – all kinds of people. I like to get to know people - who they are, what they love, what they’re trying to be, to find, to achieve. People really fascinate me. I like going on new adventures. I like to do things I’ve never done before. I am a risk-taker. I tend to leap before I think. I’ll be the first one to try something. Why not? If it works, then others won’t be as averse to trying it. I’m a leader in that way. As such, I will sometimes - often, go too far, do too much, jump too soon, bail too soon, and wind up regretting it. Then, I have to go back and do it again, or make the same mistake, over and over, if I don't learn from it. Writing helps me to see what I need to do, to put it in perspective, to learn the lessons, and move on.
  • When I went through the leadership institute, they had a field trip right in the middle of the month-long course, where we went out to this “Ropes Course” in Falls River, which included climbing up a 35 foot pole, with a harness on, then when you got to the very top of the pole, if you dared, you jumped off. Your teammates down below, if you trusted them, had your back, and the rope tied to the harness on your back, so as you leaped, you were brought down to the ground somewhat gently, and you had a memorable experience, hopefully about how you pushed through your own fears to achieve something you didn’t think you could achieve.

    I, of course, raised my hand when they asked for someone to go up the pole first. I was there to learn to be a better leader, and the only way to learn was to take risks. This was all great in theory, and all was going well as I made my way up that pole, feeling all good and heroic for being such a leader. Then, as I reached the top, I met my fears. Actually, they had been waiting right there for me all along. I looked at the top of that pole, which was just that, the top of the pole – there was no little platform to stand on, just the little, round pole-top. I looked down at my size 13-Wide Sneakers, and back at the top of that pole. Every fiber of my being screamed “Don’t do this! This is not fucking cool! Go back. There’s nothing to hang onto up there – look at that. You took it this far – let someone else be the hero and stand up there, all naked to the world like a fool. Get the fuck outta here, dude – really, really not cool.”
  • I was all ears, listening to my very rational fears, agreeing that they were all right, of course. But, I felt an obligation to be a leader – it’s what I was here for. I had volunteered to go up first, and if I backed out now, I would be letting the others down, and would be making it o.k. to bail on the goal. I would be well-justified, and no one would blame me – but, that’s not what a leader would do. I would always look back on this moment with a tinge of regret, always wishing that I had completed what I'd set out to do.

    But, I felt like a little boy up there, my fear so strong and powerful, as I cowered before it, letting it blast me for all it was worth. Then, I looked down at my size 13 wides again, I looked at the little top of that pole, and I said, “This is freaking impossible, but we’re going to do it anyway. Come on!’ , I trembled. I got one foot up there – “Fuck, there’s no way I can even fit them both on here!” I really just wanted to cry. Do it anyway. You won’t have to stand there long. I was so afraid, I felt a terrible hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. There really was nothing to hang onto. I knew I had a harness on my back, and they wouldn’t let me fall to the ground, but what was to stop me from slipping off that little round top, and bang into that pole about twenty times on the way down, as I swung back and forth, helplessly?
  • Finally, I just pulled the second foot up, slowly raised my body up to a full standing position, truly feeling naked to the world and all alone up there, with nothing to hang onto, but then an exhilaration just swept through my entire being as I realized, “You did it, man! You made it to the top! Look around – it’s just you and the trees up here. Enjoy this. Remember it. Breathe it in. You did this. No one can ever take this away from you. You will never have to face this fear again….now….JUMP!”

    And I did – I did a swan dive, just pushed off from the top of that pole with my size 13-wides that were spilling over the sides of the damn thing, and I felt all the joy and glory of living in that second, fear was long behind me, a distant memory, and I felt like a true leader. It felt great.

    I will never climb one of those poles again. I don’t have to. I’ve done it. I have no regrets from the experience. On to the next adventure!
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