is nothing . . . that can be said . . . that can frighten
me . . . anymore . . . Sadden me . . . perhaps . . . disgust
me . . . certainly . . . but not make me afraid . . . It has
been said . . . Learn What You Fear . . . Then Make Love To
It . . . dance with it . . . put it on your dresser . . .
and kiss it good . . . night.
sentiment expressed by poet Nikki Giovanni had been my battle
cry since the first time I jumped off a boulder into the cool
Osage River while at summer camp in my early teens. I continued
to dance with it while living in Eastern Africa in my early
twenties, and working at high-growth companies like Microsoft
half a dozen years later. Along the way, I danced with my
fear many times.
did I expect, however, that this intense life would wear thin
and I’d waltz with a new kind of fear in my late thirties:
wunderkind of extreme sports and foreign adventure—long before
they were cool—now lives on a farm in a forest near her husband’s
family in Central Virginia. I do this even though my old friends
and colleagues remind me there is so much more living to do.
What? They think I’ve stopped living? I’m bored? Something
must be wrong? Did I forget to mention it hasn’t been boring
even once, and I’m living more now than ever before?
be told, I do fear, at least once a day, that the extreme
me lurks just past our mile-long driveway, waiting for me
on my twice-daily walk to the mailbox. The dog wouldn’t scare
her off; nothing would. Maybe what I’m really fearful of now
is that she won’t turn up again and that I’ve scared her off
for good. I wonder if she’d ever be able to appreciate the
simple life that Elaine
St. James introduced me to or the integrated personal
life and work life that Lotte
Bailyn has been researching.
I’m afraid she’d make me go back to a lifestyle where I had
to dedicate and cordon off time and location to only learning,
only work, and only life. Maybe she’d keep me from having
a personal coach,
an active workout
schedule, and the chaordic
life I cherish.
what of Tom
Davenport’s assertion that our new lives have everything
to do with where we place our attention, Sue
that Work and Family go hand in hand, and Doug Smith’s
perspective that we can “team around the clock” safely if
we manage expectations? Would my old-self just never buy in
to these integrated and balanced notions or possibly not care?
have devoted my life to learning to learn and helping organizations
profit from what they learn and can apply faster. Why shouldn’t
I be entitled to time enough to learn what I care for and
finally make my peace with peace? It’s the old me asking these
questions, almost mocking me. She desperately wants me to
integrate my old extreme life with this new peaceful one to
help me be whole once and for all I’ll think about it as the
crickets lull me to sleep. Tomorrow will inevitably offer
me something else to learn and integrate into my life. Isn’t
it about time I dance again?