The 30 Post Review

I started this project for three reasons:

  1. The school I’m a part of, Experience Institute, developed a 90-day learning challenge tool called the Leap Kit. I used the kit to map out a project, and decided that writing a daily blog is something I’ve always thought about doing. This seemed like a good time to see if I could.
  2. My first of three terms was about writing and creating works that build confidence. I worked on a novel and other writing in New York City. I wanted my second term to be about sharing my work and this seemed like a good way to do that.
  3. I wanted to get over lingering fears of sharing my authentic self with people. In the past few years, I became hyperaware of people’s opinions of me in the world and on social media. It made me stop taking risks, and I didn’t enjoy the process of sharing my ideas as much.

So after 30 posts over 6 weeks, I thought it would be a good time to check-in and setup for the next stretch.

To start off, I hate the term “blog.” That’s why I tried calling this “The Chronicle,” but it’s entered into my vocabulary and mind frame. “Blog” should be an innocuous term to mean any place where writing is stored online. It’s not though. We all know too many people who kept a blog on the mundane moments of life and shared it with the enthusiasm one might share a new Beyoncé song.

The term “blog” has become synonymous with amateur. The quality is held up to no standard, and blogs are never as prestigious as a print publication and they aren’t carried with such reverence. About halfway through this process, I gave up on trying to call it “The Chronicle” and began to call it a “blog”. Because the day-to-day aspect of it definitely made me feel like it was less important.

Seth Godin’s daily blog was a place where I derived inspiration for the chronicle blog. He thinks everyone should be willing to share a thought everyday. He’s good at writing posts that are only 50 words if that’s all that’s needed—he really just shares thoughts some days rather than full articles. I am not good at just presenting pieces of thoughts. I have approached this blog wanting complete pieces.

This is not how I do my best work. In an ideal world, I would have three days to work on a story—one day to write, one rewrite and one day to edit. While my procrastination habits aren’t as bad as they were in college, I can’t seem to work three days ahead.

The other problem with working everyday is I’m not regularly creating things I really care about. My article about sexism in sports is the only post I think is great, along with the actual blog for Experience Institute. I can’t hit home runs every time in this environment, but I am still proud of a lot of pieces worthy of singles and doubles. I’ve also allowed myself to share some fictional pieces, which I never did before.

Why does getting behind my work matter? I hate having to share my work. I understand that it’s a necessary evil, but I feel bad pushing my work on people. Plus, Facebook’s algorithm has not been my friend this month for views. That frustrates me because it seems I put the work out there for no reason sometimes. I think that my hesitations about blogging may have had more to do with the process of sharing than what I share. I am going to work harder going forward.

A few goals the rest of the way:

  1. More research, planning and trying out stories. I can think on my feet with the best of them, but like wine, my best work takes time to mature.
  2. More stories: I don’t want to use this place to preach—I want to create things. I should be showing these things, rather than telling readers about them.
  3. Get excited and find places of vulnerability.
  4. Think about things I like to come across online and deploy some of those techniques for my own personal marketing. I’ve done it before, but it wasn’t the original plan on The Chronicle.
  5. My friend says my logo sucks. So this week, I made a logo that is just the heart ripped out of my logo in protest. I like my logo, it’s been a part of me forever, but I could clean it up and spend more time on details like that.
  6. Take bigger risks!

After the Dawn of Justice

This is a follow-up conversation after Patrick and I saw Batman Vs. Superman Dawn of Justice. Part 1 of this conversation was: Is it Better to be a Savior or a Vigilante?

Patrick can be found on Twitter: @Man of Tomorrow.  Patrick is my superhero vendor. He introduced me to Justice League 8 and convinced me to watch Arrow. I’m a novice in the comic book world. Patrick brings a deep knowledge about the battle between Superman and Batman.

Derek: All right Patrick, let’s do a follow up to the original conversation about Vigilante vs. Savior. I’d love to hear your initial reaction to Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. What were your initial thoughts when this movie ended?

Patrick: I actually loved the movie. My best friend and I wound up seeing it 5 times opening weekend, and I’ve been a total of six times.

I understand people’s dislike for it, but for me, I see film adaptations of comic book characters as different interpretations, and I’m just fine with how things are going. But I get that it’s tough for people to let go of the ideal visions in their minds (i.e. Christopher Reeve).

But for me, the movie was cool, looked awesome, and I thought Affleck’s Batman was the most interesting Batman/Bruce Wayne they’ve ever put on film. The movie raises a lot of questions, and I think it just suffers from Zack Snyder not being a very good director. I don’t hate him like most do, but he’s definitely not Christopher Nolan, et al.

It got me super excited for Wonder Woman, Justice League, and everything else they’re doing. I just uh, wouldn’t be upset if Justice League: Part One was Snyder’s last round with the DC films.

Derek: I’m with you. I enjoyed the experience immensely! I just didn’t feel like I was at a movie. It was sort of like a bunch of small storylines put together. I felt like my mind had to make great leaps sometimes to understand why people were so upset: the committee hearing, Batman, Superman and Lex Luhtor (Jr). The stuff in between was great though. What are your big questions heading into the rest of the franchise?

Patrick: Yeah, unfortunately it was kind of all over the place, and character motives weren’t very clear. In those cases, such as, why did Lex hate Superman so much? I just subconsciously filled in those gaps with what I already know about Lex’s character in general, and it usually doesn’t make me like the movie any less.

Well, first, I am kind of shocked by the ending. Superman will obviously return, but they can’t logically bring Clark Kent back from the dead. That will make me sad, as I love Clark Kent as much as Superman.

Lots of questions though about the larger DCEU. There were plenty of nods to Darkseid, the quintessential DC villain (and Marvel’s Thanos is a blatant rip-off of his character).

Was the Flash really speaking to Bruce through the Speed Force from the future, or from an alternate Earth, or alternate future? I wouldn’t have minded if that scene had been cut, but it seemed to lay some mysterious groundwork for the next films.

I could go on…

Derek: How interesting would it be if Superman wasn’t in the first half of the Justice League. Imagine the Justice league having to fill in for a world without Superman. This is one of the more interesting plot angles I feel like?

Also, any insight on this Flash? Are we still dealing with Barry Allen (CW TV SHOW Fame, but I know it’s a different actor) or is this someone else entirely.

Patrick: Yeah, while I knew Doomsday was in this film, for some reason it never crossed my mind that they would adapt Death of Superman. I assumed just being two movies into the universe; it’d be pretty crazy to “kill” Superman, especially since the very next film with him in it would be Justice League! Seemed like a very risky move.

I honestly can’t remember when it happened or what comic, but Batman and Superman were arguing about something, and Batman pointed out the only time Superman really inspired people, was when he was dead. And many people stepped up to fill in for him during the Reign of the Supermen story.

It would be great to see more of Batman’s tactical side, and Wonder Woman’s ability to be the battle-hardened leader she apparently is, with no Superman. Usually, leadership falls on those three, and Superman is often deferred to, or seen as the “de facto leader”. I’m also unsure how they would play Justice League Part 1 and 2. Will a lead-up villain be in Part 1, leaving Darkseid for Part 2? All due respect to everyone else, but Superman has always kind of been the only one who can handle Darkseid, without some gimmick or plot device.

And yes, this Flash is Barry Allen, but he obviously does not fit the old appearance of Barry (neither does Grant Gustin). That was one of my issues with that scene; he didn’t really look like Flash. He was wearing armor? It was just strange. But the Flash is generally the only time-traveler around, and Barry has been the one that generally does it, with drastic side effects.

Derek: So, I’ve only seen the movie once, but I must say that watching Batman and Superman fight on the big screen was just a tiny bit painful. It would be like Kermit the Frog and Elmo going after each other with scissors, but worse because Batman and Superman are such good friends. What was your initial reaction to that scene? What perceptions changed for you after watching the movie a few (a half dozen) times?

Patrick: I’ve seen Batman and Superman get into skirmishes before in the comics and the animated series, so it wasn’t a total shock, and it’s kind of a hallmark of their first meetings in any form. But, I enjoyed the fight! The whole “who would win” debate is kind of silly in my opinion. The only way Batman ever wins is via Kryptonite, and the only way he gets to use it is by taking advantage of the fact that Superman does not want to kill him. If Superman really wanted to, Batman would die before he could even get his Kryptonite ammo loaded.

One of my complaints is that I wish Superman had pleaded with Bruce more in those moments. He started to explain, but then quickly abandoned that route. I would have liked to see him stay defensive and refuse to fight, trying to explain the situation to Bruce. But once he gets hit with Kryptonite, I can understand him entering fight-or-flight mode, especially when his mother’s life is at stake.

I really enjoyed the moment Superman gets through to Bruce. I do wish they had spent more time on it, because it does seem abrupt that they’re suddenly friends. But, to me, Bruce finally saw Clark as human, realizing he had a mother and seeing him as a man, just like Bruce. That was a good moment for me; maybe cheesy, but whatever.

Derek: I’ve been thinking a bit about villains. I remember getting really excited hearing that Eddie Murphy was going to be Riddler a decade ago and it never happened. As a Batman fan, I just love all of the villains. Are there any villains you hope make an appearance in the rest of the jumbo franchise?

Patrick: Now and forever: Darkseid.

He’s my all-time favorite villain, to the point where he’s maybe my favorite comic book character after Superman, LOL. I didn’t get introduced to him until the Superman Animated Series, but have sine gone back and read Jack Kirby’s New Gods, and pretty much anything else that has Darkseid in it.

To me, he’s just super cool, and absolute evil. His goal is to remove the free will from all life in the universe, to where only his survives, leaving him to rule everything. The “Anti-Life Equation” is what he’s always seeking to accomplish this goal. Plus, his history with the New Gods is interesting; I’d love to see the New Gods, Apokolips and New Genesis on screen.

Other than Darkseid, really Metallo is one of my favorite Superman villains, and I caught in Batman Vs. Superman, a scientist credited as “Emmett Vale,” who was the creator of the Kryptonite-hearted cyborg. I loved him in the animated series.

But, also, Black Adam (Teth-Adam) is one of my favorite comic book characters, and goes back and forth between anti-hero and villain. He’s a villain mainly for Shazam! but has fought against the Justice League and others, too, given his power level. The Rock is already signed on to play him in Shazam! a few years from now, which has me totally stoked, because I love The Rock, haha.

Derek: Well, I think that about wraps this up. Any final thoughts on what we should take out of this movie? What’s next on the excitement list? Captain America: Civil War? Suicide Squad? Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Finding Dory?

Patrick: For me, it accomplished its goal in getting me extremely excited for Wonder Woman, she was so awesome in the Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League. To be honest, the thing I’m enjoying most out of Man of Steel & Batman vs. Superman is how DC is saying “here is your real world, and we’re dropping superheroes in it.” That may not be people’s cup of tea, or the escape some are looking for, but it’s incredibly interesting and appealing to me.

I’m definitely excited for Suicide Squad, and Civil War. But honestly, after Batman Vs. Superman, those will just hold me over until Wonder Woman in June 2017. That’s the one I’m most looking forward to!

Derek: Yeah, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) rocked in the movie! Thanks for your insight!

Pockets of Happiness

I keep so many pockets of happiness that I decided to sew them into a jacket. Each pocket found its proper place, but happiness is such a touchy issue that my joy is dispersed and sometimes lost.

The jacket has one breast pocket facing outward over my heart. It’s my own personal nametag—the happiness I always show to the world. This pocket is where I keep my standard answers to the question, how are you? The phrases I’m pretty good and I’m alright hang out in this pocket. When people are masking deeper issues with happiness, this is the pocket they usually store their antics in.

The other outward pocket is the one on my sleeve. It’s where I keep the happiness to show people close to me and where I keep the good moments of my life. I often come across this pocket by accident like when the Colorado Rockies hit a home run or I run into my friend on a train. This is where I keep memories of laughs and love.

My day-to-day happiness goes in the two regular old pockets on the bottom of the jacket. Unfortunately, these pockets seem to have holes in them. Whatever thread I use to sew up these holes doesn’t seem to work. It sometimes feels like this happiness is elusive. Without the right ingredients for my life—job and meaning—the holes will never be filled.

I must admit that the pocket on the right has a secret compartment. I’ve found myself storing happiness in this compartment and not showing it to the world. It seems to me that when people think you’re happy, they suddenly think you’re not struggling.

With my life in turmoil at times, I don’t go into this secret pocket much. I am afraid if I do, I will lose the support system around me to deal with my problems. If I cannot secure my long-term happiness, then I don’t know that I can have short-term happiness.

The final pocket is inside the jacket. It’s hard to get to. You have to unzip the jacket and unbutton the pocket, but in rare moments I seek it out. This is where my moments of bliss lie. This is where I keep the valuable experiences that I wish were abundant enough to fill the other pockets.

Warning: Do Not Replicate

The fastest way to irrelevancy is to try and copy other people’s ideas, processes or results. This is true in art, business and innovation.

Our brains are trained to ignore things that fit into a narrative we already understand. It’s one of the reasons trends in marketing don’t make a lot of sense. It’s why people don’t take risks on social media. It’s why people want me to post on Medium and be part of the crowd. People think you need to adopt the habits and technology of past successes.

Our great innovators built something new. Can you imagine if Charles Dickens just rewrote Shakespeare word for word? What about if Google just said, “We’re going to do what Microsoft did?” It wouldn’t work. It’s also a reason companies fall apart. Formerly great companies crumble because they have an inability to invent new things.

When this happens, things die. It’s what killed the American Western genre. It’s a reason the established television news and newspapers lost their footing. Stagnation doesn’t impress audiences. This becomes evident when artists put out the same record three times in a row.

I worry about this problem when I see all of these articles about following the habits of successful people. There’s a huge industry for this sort of thing, and for the most part, we should not concern ourselves with copying people. It’s about evolving past them.

I’m listening to Jim Collin’s Good to Great, a book about companies that outperformed their competitors. Based on the book’s research, there’s not a set formula that performance is tied to: motivation style, monetary incentives, lifestyle structure, personal publicity or technology. Great performers operate outside such frameworks, but so many people think that the key to success is hidden somewhere in articles and books on these processes.

The first step in the building process should be to explore things that work for you. Then for step two you should be consider creating something the world wants. Not for personal gain, but as a way of elevating whatever you’re working on. Create your own path. Take things from others that work for you, but then start creating. You’re wasting your time trying to replicate the success of others. We won’t notice.

The Myths of Sportswriters

The shortstop paces through the warm-ups ready to start the top half of the first on Opening Day. Back and forth, the first baseman has to anticipate where the shortstop will be before he throws and twice the ball ends up in left field. This new kid, this nobody, is the lynchpin for the entire season. In game 58, he will rattle a lights-out pitcher from a divisional rival. It’s the sixth inning when no-name becomes somebody worth knowing on that diamond. Will you know to pay attention?

Baseball is here—and it’s become a regional sport. We don’t have the modern-day mythology around the game as we did in the past. Blame interleague play, steroids and star power, but I think the ability to care about the purity of the game is still there. It’s up to our mythmakers to elevate the sport to levels of NBA and NFL reverence. We need good stories in baseball.

The culture of sports is built around stories. You’re seeing this mythology develop around the Golden State Warriors right now. They have become the Camelot of basketball. Yes, what they’re doing is incredible, but everyone buys into the hype. Between their selfless teammates and unbelievable stars, the Warriors enamor even the people covering them.

These moments of interest exist in every sport. You see smaller versions of these “Warrior” moments pop up based on storylines throughout seasons. You see it in rivalries. You see it in traditions, like the Florida Panthers throwing rats on the ice or an authentic nickname. Fans create their own culture through their chants and signals.

However, sometimes these moments are not as obvious and that’s where the sportswriter has an advantage. With teams using media access as a carrot or a marketing tool and beat writers competing with bloggers, the writer is becoming an endangered species. However, the good ones fight back and seek out their own stories. They build their own legends.

Sportswriters hold a dual role of discovering myths and then drawing them out into the light for the rest of us. Imagine the power of creating a nickname or penning a moment frozen in time. What if every time a rival team rolls into town, you bring out a bit of hostility to the fans reading your work.

Sportswriters create epic stories. They hold the power to build interest. It’s not an easy job; you have to constantly look for new ways to tell stories and create narratives.

It can’t be forced. This is where the hyperbole of the blogosphere can derail sports writing. Don’t make up storylines. Don’t create rumors and don’t assign arbitrary nicknames. Justify your work.

There are many great writers today, but we need more people to assume this role. Sportswriters hold the keys to our sports world so we need them create our myths. I know it’s hard to make a Colorado kid living in Chicago care about the Cleveland Indians, but you’re my only hope. Give me a reason to care about baseball teams outside of my own. Build that story for me.

The Extremist’s Magic Mirror

The mirror talks back. Four extremist knights—they use the term extremist themselves—sit in an occupied castle. They are dimwitted and believe the hype around their organization. So they crowd around the mirror, waiting for it to praise them.

The mirror, it turns out, is a television, airing news from the West. One of them, the leader of this small outpost, leans in toward the TV, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest of them all?”

A politician who is known as a fire-breathing dragon and magician appears before them. “We should be very afraid of these extremists,” he shouts, “They are truly evil.”

The politician might as well be saying to the knights, “why there you are, my kings.”

The poisoned apples are these knights. They are disposable, rot easily and don’t have much value until someone bites into them. They have become the mythical hydra. You cut off one of a head and 10 fighters grow in its place.

These knight’s idealism travels on flying carpets—unmanned western drones that could kill in an instant. They use fear to keep the population in check. It’s the same technique used by the leaders and the fire-breathing dragons politicians who oppose them (and sometimes help them).

To wield the sword in the stone, to fight back the knights and the dragons, you must be willing to have a level head. You must forge a new Camelot to stand against them. Unite with discourse, and campaign to make them mere mortals; condemn the extremists as cowards, not as ideology. They do not sit on a throne of evil, but hide within their own immoral practices. Remember, genies are imprisoned in bottles and martyrs die in caves—opportunists lives in castles.

Across the world, the western politician yells from a stage, “We will carpet bomb them. We will destroy their villages and families.” He uses parlor tricks to keep an audience hanging on his every word, and it works. People in the West’s extremism incites mobs against those dreaming of Camelot.

The magician turns to his men and shouts, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest of them all?”

“Why you are my King,” the television will respond into night long after the cheers from this crowd die down.

The Moonlight Gin Drinker

Your brilliant plans never looked quite right,
And when sleep wouldn’t get you through the night
You would soak in thoughts, from the light of the moon.

You asked her once if she had a plan,
If it used the waves to draw words in the sand,
But the ocean took her words too soon.
I think you’ve known an ocean or two.

Still sometimes, still sometimes, still sometimes late at night
I find your shadow, running through my dreams.
It’s another fight, another fight, it’s one of our old fights,
But they were never quite, as bad as they seemed.

The Midnight Gin Drinker was after my heart
But never as fast as she seemed from the start
And never as sure of what we could be

She told me once, how she’d slip away.
How she’d leave a room with nothing to say
And without a glance, she’d be gone.
I never knew what I did wrong.

Still sometimes, Still sometimes, still sometimes late at night
I find you shadow, running through my dreams.
It’s another fight, another fight, it’s one of our old fights,
But they were never quite, as bad as they seemed.

Song Lyrics, written in 2014

Comedic Nostalgic Timing

Riding Chicago’s trains this weekend, I listened to Steve Martin’s autobiography, Born Standing Up. Martin’s narration served as an engaging backdrop for my solo search party for a six-week apartment sublease. It was a weird juxtaposition—Martin was looking for comedy clubs, while I was looking at bedrooms. Both of us were concerned about similar things: lighting, entertainment and atmosphere.

The book is a wonderful ride through Steve Martin’s early career as a comedian, magician and actor. He begins work at age 10 when Disneyland opened, and the book ends with Steve becoming the greatest selling comedian the world has ever seen. It’s even more fun in the audio format with Martin’s voice providing the action.

I’ve seen Steve Martin tour with his banjo. My parents raised me on his movies and SNL appearances. What impressed me most about Martin from his book was his desire to create something entirely new. He wanted to embody the spirit of a “Wild and Crazy Guy” persona to entertain audiences. He set out to craft jokes without punch lines—where audiences were not cued to laugh, but had to find the humor on their own.

I think Steve Martin and I share a few traits. Mainly, we both like Steve Martin, but I think we share in that idea of creating something that has never been done before. He spent years working on his act—I’m beginning to explore that idea by writing every day. Some of my set list goes over as poorly as his did, I’m sure.

Steve Martin gave himself a deadline to become a comedian. Similarly, I’m going to try being Derek for five more years and if that doesn’t work, I’ll go be someone else. Maybe I’ll try being Steve Martin.

The Theater of the Mind

In the closing minutes of the book, Martin returned to a theater where he performed magic and bizarre comedy early in his career. For a moment, alone in this theater, Martin wished he could go back to those early days—when he was still figuring things out.

As I listened to the book, I realized that I’m still in those early days—that my moment to stand in the theater is still ahead of me. In fact, it’s the very halls I’m walking down now that will someday feel gentle on my mind.

Before I began this year with Experience Institute, I found myself walking on my alma mater’s campus as freshmen were moving in. The University of Colorado in Boulder was packed with parents and terrified looking young adults. Several times, I almost felt the urge to go up to one and yell, “you’re going to love this place, relax!”

I have no desire to go back to college, but I am glad I have those memories. Every now and then, I wish I could return, just for a moment, to similar touch points in my life. Each one hold vivid scenes and memories.

There’s a curse and a power in remembering too much of the past, which Steve Martin displays with his book. I know from experience. At some point, you remember people and events in ways others don’t. It’s like you’re living that part of your life alone. It’s a great space for storytellers, but one that sometimes drains me.

That’s Another Story

I am working on an application for a place I’d really like to work. One of the questions is as follows: “Tell us your favorite personal story. It should be something that happened in your life that you find particularly amusing, surprising or emotional.”

When I first read it, my mind drew a blank.

So I leave the application, get on a train and start listening to Steve. I’m thinking about the  application question—frustrated and wracking my brain for material. Why don’t I have new stories?

At first, I blamed the change on me outgrowing moments of nostalgia. I reasoned that the cause was a combination of splintered romantic interests, the cruelty of the world and Netflix. I’m 25 and it’s been a weird year. Caffeine is finally affecting me and I am more conscious of the term “young professional.” Maybe it’s just not worth reflecting on what’s going on around me—until it becomes necessary.

A lot of a comedian’s work is trying bits and refining them for an act in an effort to please your audience. I think great storytelling must develop in a similar fashion.

Recently, I’ve been resistant to moments of reflection, by not creating meaning and stories for myself.  If I don’t capture those small moments, they obviously fall out of my routines. I need to keep practicing.

A personal look at storytelling is all about a commitment to my craft, and sharing the small things I notice. In truth, I’ve never written about the girl named Calypso who stole my shirt. I very rarely tell the story about the ironic Pizza Hut visit. They’re small antidotes, but they build into segments with punch lines you don’t see coming.

Ten Thoughts Tuesday: A New Theory of Orange

1. Orange Theory is a gym. They should give their members oranges every time they finish a workout. The promise of an orange might make me go to the gym.

2. Why do vegetation restaurants try to make all  of their food look like fake meat? It’s like they’re trying to prove themselves to meat eaters.

3. In Chicago, traffic lights are the law! In New York, New Yorkers are the law and the lights are a suggestion.

4. Don’t yell “Bernie Sanders” in a crowded theater. Especially when you’re at a Chekov play.

5. It would be interesting if virtual reality caused more empathy than actual reality. Interesting, but unlikely…

6. I wish the Pink Line train existed during Chicago’s organized crime past. Imagine a classic Chicago mob called, “The Pink Line.” (Editors note: I wrote this Monday  night. On Tuesday morning, a large section of the Pink Line was shutdown because of a signal station fire).

7. My friend Aaron is too excited about an alternative version of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ song, “S.O.B.

Aaron’s lyrics are about bacon.

8. You never really need a compass until you really need a compass.

9. Derek is a hard name for me to pronounce when the cashier says, “Can I have a name for the order?” They usally think my name is Gary.


After the deaths of Han Solo and Superman this year, you can expect the following fictional character deaths by the end of 2016: Captain America, the remaining original Ghostbusters, Donald Trump and Harry Potter.

The Permission You Seek

I know how your life will change. You’ll be in public—perhaps at park or alone at a restaurant. You’ll be sitting there thinking about your problem. It’s always the same variation of questions about your own self worth. Are you enough? How can you possibly be arrogant enough to proceed? What will people think of you?

A man walks up to you.

“Excuse me, are you…you?”

Confused, you stare at the man. He sighs and pulls an old scroll from his bag. You notice that he is wearing period clothing, although what period, you’re not quite sure. Something is off. Is he too short or too thin? He is remarkable, but not noticeable.

“It says right here that you are supposed to be here right now.”

He will roll up the scroll and brandish it at you.

“We need you. All of us are counting on you to be here. And not the version of you someone else wants, or some idealistic you. It needs to be the real you.”

He gets to his knees and holds his hands together pleading.

“So please, don’t tell me you left that you at home. I’ve seen that happen so often in the moment where we need people the most.”

He collapses on the ground, shouting:

“Don’t tell me that you are hardened against the world. A bitter version of you will do us no good. If you turn your back on those around you, then surely, we are in trouble.”

“Don’t tell me that you think we’re beyond saving. It’s your time to carry the torch and show others the way!”

His eyes are teary as he pulls himself up and gets within inches of your face.

“I know that the true you is in there somewhere. The one who will help lead us where we need to go.”

He puts a hand on your shoulder; he’s the empathetic coach building you up after you blew this for everyone.

“Don’t give up on that you. Despite everything haunting you from your past and every fear of the future, we need the true you now. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but you will be called upon.

“Don’t wait for permission from others. Don’t fall in line because you have been criticized. Those who came before you were violently opposed. You can’t handle a few objections?”

“Don’t change because you feel misunderstood. Be you and find the people who need you. Even if they don’t know it yet, you have so much to add to their world.”

You make a noise to interrupt, but the man waves you off, he’s somber now.

“This isn’t about playing a part, it’s about fulfilling your obligation. So many hide from the light in this moment. We were told that you would rise to the occasion.”

He pulls a notepad and paper out of his bag. Flipping to a blank page, he looks up at you, expectantly.

“I need to report back. I need to know if we can count on you. Even when it’s unpopular, can you hold true to your beliefs and values? Will you be standing in the spot where you’re meant to be when the time comes? Are you going to show up?”

And only then, will you have the permission you thought you needed.