Pinging the Fointer


So Diana and I were teasing each other.  She is such a perfectionist, and from time to time I tease her about imaginary failings (such as failing to arrange the dust bunnies in ascending order of size before sweeping them up...).  Well, we were well into it, past the giggle stage, when I wagged my finger at her, and she choked out between giggles "Don't you ping your fointer at me!"  You can well imagine that we lost it utterly then.

I think we can judge the emotional weather pretty well by the size, duration, and frequency of our laughter.  Diana has a hundred laughs, from snorts and sniggles to giggles to guffaws to shrieks.  And we find so much funny, thank God, in ourselves and each other and the kids and the dog and even the carpenter ants that are suddenly everywhere in the kitchen (well, you said you didn't like the tile.  They heard you...).  I am so blessed.

The last two days were spent at a leadership conference.  The company I work for sends everyone to this conference, the theme of which is that it is everyone's job to be a leader--don't sit back and wait to be told what to do, get on it.  Seize the day!  The attendees ranged from people who joined three months ago to people who have been with the company a year or more.  I was probably the oldest one there, although there were probably a few people within a decade of me.  And a lot of twenty-somethings, fresh out of school.

I discovered anew what I have seen in other such workshops.  There are a few people for whom the workshop comes at the perfect time.  They are ready to move to the next level.  They are better than they think they are, and are ready to give up a level of self deprecation and settle into their power.  Indeed, there were a couple of such people in this workshop.  They left six inches taller, ready to go dig the lions out of their cave.  For most of the rest, there were some good ideas, some seeds planted, and perhaps at some later time they will burst into flower.  The teacher was good, the material well organized.  It met my expectations.  But it didn't exceed them.

One of the key points in the class was a ropes course.  For those who have avoided these symbols of corporate America, this represents some high-strung cables, logs, and other things hung between trees or poles.  Everyone wears a helmet and a harness, and there are pulleys artfully placed so that a group of people on the ground could prevent someone from falling.  Rationally, there is very little danger.  However, when you are 15 feet off the ground walking on a small cable strung between two trees, it sure doesn't feel like there is very little danger.  The lessons to be learned are that it's OK to be afraid and you can still function, that other people can backstop you, that the people on the ground holding the ropes have an important job too.  A few people learned those lessons.  Others had been to climbing walls, etc., and pushed the envelope--one walked the beam blindfolded.  I didn't see that they learned much.

Functioning through fear is indeed a useful trait.  Courage, after all, is feeling afraid and doing it anyway.  And other people can encourage you, and that helps.  All the most precious things I have done in my life--my marriages, having kids, moving to California, moving to Mass.--have all been done in the face of sometimes overwhelming fear.  There were precious few people on the ground with the ropes, and no safety nets.  And many people I know stayed on the ground, being chased in circles by their fear.  Like all shadow energy, it has to be embraced, seen as a necessary part of life, in order to move through it.  That's the true teaching.  Hello darkness, my old friend!

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2002 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.