Magic set in motion
My “spidey-sense”—the feeling I get when my brain is working overtime to find patterns among the random inputs and connect those seemingly unconnectable dots—began to tingle. It seemed the Universe was up to something. Maybe even something magical. Still, whatever it was planning, I hoped it would wait at least until morning.

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.

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 me to join him. Afterward, we walked to the meeting hall for the day’s sessions. Jeff and I sat together at the end of one row in the balcony, only to be encouraged by conference staff to move toward the middle of the row so others could find a seat more easily. The row filled quickly, leaving two seats beside me. Just before the program began, a couple came in and asked if the seats were available. I looked up to answer, and I felt an unexplained connection with them. We offered polite introductions, including the obligatory WDS question, “How far have you traveled?” and then the program started. After the morning sessions had been over, we took a short break. I did not see Jeff, or the couple, for the rest of the day.

I intentionally set the bar low for most conferences, hoping to find only one nugget of information I can take away and put to use. I was confident I had found my nugget in the very first session, with communications strategist Nancy Duarte. Still, I listened intently to the other presentations, and although interesting and entertaining—especially Jia Jiang’s presentation on Rejection—much of what I heard reinforced concepts I know and have applied in my life and work for a long time. There was little new content for me, but I enjoyed being in the company of such passionate, interesting, and fun people.

After the day’s closing session, I took part in photo-walk in downtown Portland for a while before breaking off for drinks and dinner with my long-time Twitter friend Heather, and her friend Anna. It’s always interesting to connect in person with someone I have known only through social media. Sometimes social media allows a person to project a façade, but everyone I met in person at WDS, like Heather, seemed warm and authentic.

I turned in early the first night and reflected on my day. The reinforcing words of the speakers and the passion and openness of the attendees were on my mind. I thought more about the energy I felt from the couple and the courage I heard in the voices of those seeking to be somehow “remarkable in a conventional world.” I considered my frequent encounters with Jeff in a sea of 3,000 people.

My “spidey-sense”—the feeling I get when my brain is working overtime to find patterns among the random inputs and connect those seemingly unconnectable dots—began to tingle. It seemed the Universe was up to something. Maybe even something magical. Whatever it was planning, though, I hoped it would wait at least until morning.

Read Part III: We can dance if we want to

Everything's outta control
I realized I had completely lost control of my day. Normally I would be frustrated with myself for making choices earlier to derail my own plan, but I was not frustrated. In fact, I was very calm for an introvert on his way to a Zoo filled with the untamed energy of 3,000 people.

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.

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.

A freind 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 a self-guided photo tour through Mt. Lassen National Park and around Mt. Shasta, before stopping in Ashland, Oregon to visit two long-time friends for a couple of days.

Feeling recharged after my visit with John and Steve, I left the morning of July 5 for the five-hour drive to Portland. My plan was to check-in before the early registration ended at 3:00 and then attend the WDS Virgins gathering—a meeting of first-time attendees to learn the ropes—at 3:30. I left Ashland later than planned, but I thought I could make it to Portland by 2:30. Two rest stops later and interesting encounter with a guitar-playing homeless woman who pulled my heart-strings to the tune of twenty dollars, I realized I would not arrive before early registration closed. Since I could register at the opening reception, my revised goal was to make the WDS Virgins gathering.

I was still on track when I arrived at the hotel a little before 3:00. I quickly showered, dressed, and left at 3:20 to attend the “WDS Virgins gathering. Unfortunately, I misread the map and eventually discovered I had gone blocks in the wrong direction. It was impossible to make it to the meeting and still have time to mingle, so I abandoned that plan, too. Despite a day of missed connections, I was confident I could make it to the meeting hall in time to catch the bus to the Oregon Zoo for registration and the opening reception.

Walking to the meeting hall, I realized I had completely lost control of my day. Typically, I would be frustrated with myself for making choices earlier to derail my plan, but I was not frustrated. In fact, I was very calm for an introvert on his way to a Zoo filled with the untamed energy of 3,000 people.

Read Part II: Magic set in motion

Forgiveness and resurrection are not solely Christian concepts, nor a power and capacity only God possesses. Through her actions, mom proved to me we all have the power and capacity. In those three days of silence, I was forgiven and resurrected. Over, and over, and over.

My mother and I did not always agree.

As a child, I followed the rules and did what I was told,  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 consider the timing and delivery of my words and whether it was worth a pop in the mouth for being what she thought was me being disrespectful. I thought I was being honest and direct, not disrespectful. I struggled a lifetime to find that balance with my mom.

Mom shared my gift of impulsive honesty, 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 end 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 of necessity.

It was best to let mom take the time to think and regroup when she was angry. She always called when she was ready to talk again and rarely did she make mention of our last conversation.

A few years before she died I realized she had a pattern in those periods of silence. Each time she disconnected from me, the breaks would be exactly three days. She always called me on the third day, and I apparently was forgiven for whatever I had said in the previous conversation.

When I mentioned this pattern to my dad, he said with a smile, “And on the third day, the son rises.”

It occurred to me then, forgiveness and resurrection are not solely Christian concepts, nor a power and capacity only God possesses. Through her actions, mom proved to me we all have the power and capacity. In those three days of silence, I was forgiven and resurrected. Over, and over, and over.

For her love, for her lessons, for her forgiveness, and my repeated resurrection. I am, forever, grateful.

Photo Credit: “Fall Eye” ©2012 David L. Harkins