It all started here:
This is the fence that, at 2 years old, I decided to climb (right photo behind the bushes in our home in San Mateo). I stood next to my older brother in the back yard staring at that immensely tall barrier between me and adventure. I just HAD to see what was on the other side. I’m still not sure if my brother cheered me on, helped me over, or just stood with our dog Chestnut and waved good-bye. All I know is that my mom found me 2 blocks away near a church enjoying a conversation with a policeman.
I know I gave my mom grief and great worry, and I’m sure she would have rather I just stay safe in the yard. But we found out that’s not how I’m made. I needed the adventure.
I Just had to climb that fence.
In Junior High, I was stuck. Stuck in my small little world, bumping into the fence of bad language and poor choices. Then I joined Battalion, a kind of Christian boy scouts. I saw the kind of adventure I could have if I climbed that fence. I eventually applied to be a counselor for the whole summer at an all-boys camp, Camp Nathanael. I had never done anything like that before. It was risky, dangerous, and there were lots of unknowns. But I had to climb that fence. I just had see what was on the other side.
I know I gave my mom grief and great worry, and it did result in an episode of serious burns. But it was filled with amazing memories and friendships I’ll never forget. It shaped my beliefs, introduced me to the passion of piano, and the love of the raw outdoors. It laid the foundation for much of what I am today.
I’m so glad I climbed that fence.
In my third year of college, I was burnt out. I could see my safety fence surrounding the path that lay before me… graduation > job > wedding > kids > retirement > hospice. Then Up With People called. They offered adventure. A glimpse at the other side of the safety fence…to travel the world playing guitar, visiting famous places, living with host families, and make life-long friends.
I know I gave my family and girlfriend (now wife) grief and great worry. It would mean a year apart from them, and quitting my great truck-loading job at Dayton’s. But I just had see what was on the other side.
I just had to climb that fence.
There have been other long ‘safe-spells’ in my life. I look back now and they are also the ‘dull-spells’, ‘sad-spells’, ‘temper-spells’, ‘lonely-spells’ in my life. I need to climb those fences. I need to live the adventure on the other side. Whether it’s the adventure of travel, writing a song, performing, or whether it’s the shared adventure of raising 4 kids with my stunning wife, I need to be challenged, need to be intentional, need some unknowns, risk, and thrills to look forward to. (Maybe that’s why our family travels together so much. Maybe I’m teaching the kids how to climb their own fences.)
I need fences in front of me that force a decision: Stay in your current safe place, or take a risk and climb that fence. You may fail, but if you succeed, there’s a whole new place to explore, and you’ll be a better person for it.
I just gotta climb these fences. It feeds me. It defines who I am. It makes me thrilled to be alive.
I just have to see what’s on the other side.
I’m currently traveling the world this summer for IBM. 56 days of travel from June through October. US, Australia, Europe, Africa, Singapore. I gotta climb this fence, too. This adventure beaks the safety of my current job and mixes travel, performance, risk, challenges, and reward all into one.
I know I’m causing my family and wife grief and great worry, and I know they would rather have me safe in the yard. I feel the grief, too. All I can say is that I love them, yearn for them, and wish they were along for the adventure.
But they also know that climbing fences is a part of who I am, which is why I love them so much.
I love you, family. Wife, we’ve climbed many fences together and I love the life-long adventure we’re on. I look forward to the next fence we can climb together.
I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.