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A place where they’ll never find [II]

This is the second essay in a three-part story of self-discovery that coincidentally culminated with my attendance at the World Domination Summit (#WDS2013) in Portland, Oregon July 5- 7, 2013. Click here for Part I in this series.

Magic set in motion

I ran into Jeff, a friend from North Carolina, at the Zoo. We had talked a little before I left to mingle with others in the crowd. I have learned to force myself into the discomfort of small talk, so I am not perceived as a wallflower at parties. It would have been easy to sit down with Jeff and not engage anyone else. It would have been easy for me to be a wallflower at the World Domination Summit. There were so many people.

I am not “shy,” the word most extroverts think is interchangeable with the word, “introvert.” I’m outgoing, and I make friends easily. I work hard not to come across to others as aloof, although I am certain those who may not know me well have used the word to describe me.

As an introvert, I draw energy from being alone and reflecting; crowds suck energy from me. As much as I like people, large events like WDS can be particularly draining because I put myself into “outgoing-introvert” mode for hours of constant interaction. If I could have visualized my energy levels through the evening, I would have seen a cell phone battery light, slowly discharging from the constant engagement of others.

I made some new friends during the opening reception. I met, in person, a few long-time Twitter friends. I even did something I never do: I stayed until nearly the end of the party.

The next morning I ran into Jeff again on my way to breakfast, and he asked...

A place where they’ll never find [I]

This is the first of a three-part story of self-discovery that coincidentally culminated with my attendance at the World Domination Summit (#WDS2013) in Portland, Oregon July 5- 7, 2013.

Everything’s outta control

A year is far too long for this introvert to go without an extended period of self-reflection. I know this, and still, I let the days slide by until more than two years had passed since my last significant “time-out.” The few weekend getaways I had managed to squeeze in somehow lulled me into a false sense of stability and security in the midst of my complicated life and an overabundance of work obligations.

My friend Patti must have sensed my need for a break and in May generously offered me her ticket to the World Domination Summit (WDS) when she discovered she could not attend. A conference with the name “World Domination Summit” could be about any number of things, so I’ll admit to researching the event before accepting her offer.

WDS was billed as an event for those who desired to create “a remarkable life in a conventional world” with an entrepreneurial slant. On the surface, it seemed very “touchy-feely” and although I am introspective, “touchy-feely” is not my thing. The speaker list was solid, and there was enough information to provide some comfort about the event’s topic. I still wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but the World Domination Summit was in Portland, Oregon and in all my travels, I had never been to Oregon.

I knew a period of self-reflection and recharge would be essential before encountering a crowd of nearly 3,000 people seeking to become remarkable, and I built that time into my trip. I flew into Sacramento on a late flight July 2 and left the next morning on...

On the third day

Fall Eye © David L. HarkinsMy mother and I did not always agree.

As a child, I acquiesced as children must, but as an adult, I was prone to speak my mind. Once, at age 19, I chose to be too vocal within my mother’s reach and promptly had my mouth smacked. Stunned, I walked away in silence, not to rethink what I had said because what I said was the truth. Instead, I needed to reconsider the timing and delivery of the words, which were the cause of my stinging mouth.

Mom shared my gift of impulsive honesty with words, which is why she likely did not like to be the recipient of the same. Often she would speak without thinking, saying those things on her mind before others were ready, or even needed to hear them. My dad once told me, “Your mother thinks you should not say some of the things you say to her.” She saw value in her trait to cut to the heart of matters and speak honestly; she was less appreciative of it in others, particularly when she was on the receiving end of the words.

We lived apart much of the last of her life, yet this did not stop our honest conversations. On the phone several times a year, in the silence of waiting for her response to something I had said, I would hear a “click,” and then a dial tone. Although the distance saved me from a slap across the mouth, I felt the sting just the same. Silence became my mother’s punishment of choice, or perhaps a necessity.

It was best to let mom take...

Lost

When my children were toddlers, they liked to wriggle away from me to hide in the center of a department store clothes rack.  They delighted in the game of hide-and-seek, and while I frantically searched for them, they quietly enjoyed a little taste of freedom surrounded by last winter’s coats.  The panic, frustration and fear-fueled anger I felt gave way to enormous relief when I peeked into that last rack of clothing to find my giggling child.

I continued to have those same feelings of despair and helplessness, anger and relief when my now grown children began to stretch the boundaries of their freedoms. There was that dinnertime knock at the door, opened to a deputy sheriff. Then there was the discovery of an empty bed, on two separate occasions with a different teenager missing each time, for the Sunday morning church wake-up call. I cannot count the number of times a child went home with a friend after school and did not remember to check-in until walking through the door well after dinner.  While there were many other infractions with four children, these have been among the most notable.

I was once embarrassed by their action because I believed others in my small community would pass judgment on my parenting skills. Then I realized I had done my best to help to raise four very independent-minded people.  Regardless of what I may say to them, or the example I try to set by the way I live my life, my children seem to learn better through their experiences.  Allowing each of them to learn life’s hard lessons on their own is the best thing I can do for them as their dad, even though it is much harder for me than may appear.

Watching my children learn how to become adults, I...

You don’t need a reason

This weekend, I scratched another item off my Bucket List. I spent almost four hours in good company climbing around the treetops and zipping between trees at Navitat Canopy Tour in Asheville.

When I finished, I had completed ten zip lines, two bridges, two rappels, and three short hikes. The longest line was just over 1,050 ft. long. The fastest was the one I show in the video (below), which has an estimated speed of 45 mph. The highest line was about 250 ft. off the ground.

I shared this story Monday with a small group of people and someone in the group asked me why I chose to experience the zip line course. She wanted to know if it was because I liked the thrill and adrenaline of traveling fast, or if I was trying to conquer a fear of heights, or did I have another compelling reason.  No, I told her, this was just about me doing something that I have always wanted to do. There was no other reason.

After she had left the room, I wondered how much of her life she has spent waiting for a reason to do those things she wants to do while the seconds of her life steadily click by.

Don’t do this, okay? Don’t let the moments of your life pass without enjoying each one as best you can.

Go. Do what you want to do, because you want to do it. You don’t need a reason.

Isn’t it about time we all came out?

Today is National Coming Out Day.

Yes, I am coming out. In a manner of speaking.

I am a straight person coming out in support of the freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals to love whomever they may choose, and to live life without discrimination and persecution of any kind.

I was raised to be tolerant of everyone’s differences and have endeavored to be so throughout my life, although I have admittedly been uncomfortable at times when around my LBGT friends. I don’t know why and would not dream of trying to explain such feelings when there’s no rational basis for their existence. I will tell you, though, that I’ve finally outgrown the discomfort.

We live in a different world than the one in which I grew up. Our culture is more open and accepting now. Today’s young adults learned as children–our children–that “everyone gets a trophy just for showing up.” While some may complain about their lack of ambition as a result of the way they were raised, I believe today’s young adults are perhaps the most tolerant generation in history, and their acceptance of everyone’s differences is beginning to influence their parents and grandparents.

Even so, many of my friends still cannot step forward and express their love for someone of the same gender, let alone marry this person in most states. While it appears we have made some progress, there remain far too many people in America who care more about what consenting adults do behind-closed-doors than about the contribution these same adults make to our society.

As for me, I am not interested in the bedroom behavior of anyone I know–regardless of their sexual preferences....

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