Recycling

For Rosa and Dick.

The oth­er day I found myself in a state of com­plaint. The reces­sion, of course, and what it has done to my busi­ness. It’s clear, adding up the can­celled work for this year that I have lost a sig­nif­i­cant amount. I wrote to a good friend, Tom, about my state of mind. Tom is a com­pas­sion­ate and hon­est guy. He replied:

Per­haps, like many of us, this is a time of forced reflec­tion on what are we real­ly doing here, and what is the lega­cy we can leave. You have cer­tain­ly left your mark on many of us. But it ain’t over yet, and I’m sure that out of the hav­oc will arise new oppor­tu­ni­ties and beginnings.

Drats,” I thought to myself. “Caught in vic­tim-think­ing again.” 

And so it is. A time for re-inven­tion. I have gone through sim­i­lar peri­ods, notably after 9/ll and at oth­er times dur­ing my career when work­ing in a par­tic­u­lar direc­tion or with a par­tic­u­lar client has come to an end. Despite the finan­cial fears (will I ever work again? work this big?), it is also a time when some­thing else always seems to come for­ward, some­thing stark and beau­ti­ful that speaks of re-ground­ing, push­ing the reset but­ton, going back to “begin­ner’s mind.”

If some­one asks me about my favorite sea­son, I will usu­al­ly say spring. And yet, giv­en a choice, would I ever go through win­ter again? It’s hard to say. Chas­tened by my friend’s com­ments I took a walk to the local park to clear my mind. Sure enough the answers were there in the emerg­ing green clouds of new leaves, some­times hard­ly more than dust on the branch­es it seemed — but def­i­nite­ly there. 

Along the lake, I dis­cov­ered the wil­lows green­ing up and the iris that sud­den­ly had reap­peared — as a duck pad­dled across the sky. Tril­li­ums, those mag­i­cal flow­ers one must not pick lest they fail to reap­pear for sev­en years, poked their love­ly heads out of the dried leaves of the past season. 

And I was slain again by the beau­ty of the cher­ry blos­soms flut­ter­ing down in a warm­ing breeze to lit­ter my path.


Some­thing springs up, some­thing re-invents me in the hard times. Can I let that hap­pen again?

Syn­chro­nis­ti­cal­ly, a client had asked me to plan a day of train­ing — one of the cher­ished few left on my sched­ule. Sud­den­ly I was back in front of my screen and I was think­ing. What should be the top­ic? With a lit­tle inspi­ra­tion from Peter Koesten­baum, a title for my day came to mind: Claim­ing Your Free­dom: Exer­cis­es in Orga­ni­za­tion­al Courage.

All this lyri­cism about recy­cling. Can it pay off in a harsh polit­i­cal world where mon­ey is king? And yet, could there be a bet­ter time, real­ly, to talk about the courage of new growth? 

I hate winter. 

I love the spring.

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4 Comments

  • Dick Richards wrote:

    I don’t even know where to begin. Well…with thanks! 

    This post took me so many places. To the months after 9/11, when my con­sult­ing busi­ness fell through the floor and I decid­ed I’d had enough any­way. To palling around with Peter Koesten­baum, one of Amer­i­ca’s best kept secrets. To a day on a lake or a riv­er with a cam­era and my thoughts. Or a fly rod. 

    Mud­dy paths, ducks, cher­ry blossoms…all those preg­nant images.

    To this vari­a­tion on a com­mon say­ing, “When one door clos­es anoth­er opens. But it can be hell in the hallway.”

    And “the courage of new growth.”

    This entire post is flat-out beau­ti­ful my friend.

  • You are welcome…makes me feel this is all just a mat­ter of lis­ten­ing to the river.…

  • My very first thought? Dan com­plain­ing? It just can’t be… 

    My sec­ond thought; toss the work alto­geth­er; I’d love to be that duck! 

    Then, “courage of new growth?” Sure, why not! Would so love to have your last pho­to wall­pa­per­ing every room of my house, yet at this moment I am sooo con­tent hav­ing it line the cham­bers of my heart.

    Free­dom has long been a favorite word, and a con­stant mis­sion, and hav­ing the free­dom to rein­vent and recy­cle is such a bless­ing. We hit “refresh” in count­less ways; Dick Richards, you are an inspi­ra­tion too, so much so! We are the self-employed work­er-dream­ers who CAN take a week­day walk and notice reflec­tions in pud­dles, then return to a key­board with gifts in our heart, craft­ed of our mana‘o [our deep­est thoughts and con­vic­tions, our self-truth] and of the friend­ships we cel­e­brate and thrive with­in. Poor needy us, who wear our emo­tions as blog posts, email mis­sives and jour­nal entries… blessed are we poor coach­es and con­sul­tants, the ‘luxuries’ of the busi­ness world.

    Your pho­tos lift my spir­it today Dan, and your voice cheers my heart as it always does. We know how wise you are, and your great­est wis­dom is in how you make us want to play. For the rest of today I think I will be Rosa the duckling.

  • Yes, as you say, Rosa, we are the “self-employed work­er-dream­ers.” I con­sid­er it to be a kind of sacred trust, because we have the free­dom to do what many oth­ers do not have the free­dom or per­mis­sion to do — which is to reflect, and to bring back from our moun­tain tops aid for all oth­ers who search us out. This is noth­ing to ever take for grant­ed. As work, indeed, it has its spe­cial chal­lenges to be a “lux­u­ry” of the busi­ness world.

    You (and any­one else) can find the orig­i­nal 7M pho­to of “new leaves” here for what­ev­er wall paper you would like to use it for. 

    And as for Rosa the duck­ling, well, that real­ly quacks me up! [Such pun-ish­ment! Moan!]

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