Striding into Fall

“Fall is the older season, a more seasoned season. The weather surrounds you instead of beating down on you…The weather is lighter, marbled, and it makes you feel like striding again, makes you glad that so much works at all.”

– Anne Lamott


I am not a slow walker. Slow walking makes me crazy.

I am a strider. My dad was a strider, two of my own steps to match one of his. Always falling behind, hurrying up again.

It’s a blessing and a curse, this not slowing down. Two steps at a time, up we go. Never one.

Here in these late September days, sunny and warm long past Labor Day (perhaps a “second summer”) I am compelled to move with conviction. School is in session and I will not fall behind.

These are days for striding. And it’s because we stride that so much works at all.

The first frost of winter is coming. The harvest will not gather itself.


person wearing yellow jacket walking in forest

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An External Force

“A body at rest will remain at rest and a body in motion will remain in motion (in a straight line) unless acted upon by an external force.”
– Newton’s First Law


You’ve pushed away from the shore; you are flowing down the river. You have officially launched.

The fresh air of decisiveness surrounds you; the current of conviction pulls you along. It is a heady feeling to decide and then to move. And you’ve done it.

And soon, a leak in the boat, an unseen boulder, a confluence of waters, a rapid stronger than it first appeared, will act upon your new endeavor.

You are no longer an object in motion in a straight line. You are now an object that has been acted upon by an external force.

The resistance is real. The external forces, the friction, the barricades, the speed, they confound and frustrate you. And through that narrow space of uncertainty squeezes the internal resistance; the criticism, the voices of your past defeats, the voices of your current insecurities. They are all with you in that leaky, bumpy boat.

You float on, and you remember that it was never about the straight line. You remember that it’s about the joyful gratification of persisting through the jagged line of resistance and solving all of the problems – internal and external – that it represents.

You do not lose heart because you know that with each new leak and bump, you are smarter, wiser and more committed. You persist until there is nothing more you can do or until you get to the place you call “there.”


long exposure photo of river near trees

Photo by Nick Kwan on Pexels.com

Remain in Motion

A couple of summers ago my family did a multi-day whitewater rafting trip on the Rogue River in southern Oregon.

The rapids on the Rogue are mostly Class 2 and 3 with a few Class 4s to get your attention. These latter few are the ones where the guides earn their money.

When we approached the most well known of the Rogue’s Class 4 rapids, quaintly known as “Blossom Bar,” our guides “parked” the rafts on the riverbank, climbed up a rock embankment, and spent a few minutes surveying its present condition.

Equipped with the knowledge gained through observation, the guides instructed us on how to proceed, reiterating commands and outlining our timing. It was purposeful and direct, the way it feels when a leader is clear about her intentions and helps her team understand the roles and responsibilities each team member must fulfill.

It was obvious that the whole effort would go sideways – or upside down – if we missed our mark, but it didn’t. We navigated Blossom Bar with smooth precision because of our guide’s preparation and skill and because of our team’s responsiveness in the moment.

What is so important to emphasize here is that once we were in motion on the river that day, we never stopped. Stopping was not an option for us. Our arrival at Blossom Bar and our pause to get our bearings was an exhibition of the good sense that is required to stay in motion. We could have barreled headlong through Blossom Bar and come out in one piece on the other end. We could have, but that didn’t make any sense, given the larger nature of our enterprise (to get to camp, to see more of the river tomorrow, to get home safely).

We stay in motion; we keep our heading, with a resolve that is informed by both our circumstances and our vision. We do it smartly. We build in the pauses and the rests that slow us down to communicate more effectively, to consider our options and to restore and refresh us.

This is what it means to stay in motion once we start. The alternative, once we’ve gathered the courage to push off from the shore, is to take our chances in an unknown that will, sooner or later, have its way with us.


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A Body In Motion

“I realized that – in spite of all the risks involved – a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity.”

– Olga Tokarczuk, Flights


You don’t have to go anywhere to be in motion. And you can go everywhere and be frozen in place.

What truly matters, and what I offer for your consideration on this first day of autumn, is that you get moving on that which moves you.

From your chair, your home, your neighborhood, school or workplace. From the most remote island on the planet. It doesn’t matter where. What matters is that you get and stay in motion.

The leaves are going to fall, and that’s an act of living, another of nature’s extraordinary markers of perpetual renewal.

And then winter, and then spring and then summer, again. It is always moving, a dynamic transformation from light to dark and dark to light. That’s what we can count on and it is freely given, a master class in purposeful change.

If you listen closely, you can hear the season say: “Lighten your load, it’s time to move. In spite of all the risks involved.”


action balls black and white illustration

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Movement is Life

Every time I see the movie, World War Z, I am struck by the scene in which Brad Pitt’s character implores a small family to join his own in escaping the zombies. “Movement is life,” he says, pleading with them to go. He leads his own family away and they survive. The other family stays and dies. 

World War Z was on again tonight and I thought, I should write about that line, “movement is life” and then remembered that I already had, last June. I also thought it was timely that just yesterday I wrote about how “winter” can lull us into stagnancy, getting stuck rather than getting ready. Here’s what I wrote in June. Please take heed: the zombies are closer than you think!


You’re not stuck. You’re just not moving. It’s a choice.

We know that physical movement is essential for a healthy life. And the evidence is mounting that short bursts of activity are just as valuable, sometimes even more so, than long workouts.

The same goes for your project, book, program, idea, concept or initiative.

Its viability over time is wholly dependent on you breathing life into some piece of it, some small piece.

You will never create a facsimile of what’s in your imagination. It just doesn’t work that way. But what it does become may just delight and inspire you in ways you can not predict. The sooner you get moving, the sooner you’ll find out.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world

A Week of Thanks: Day 3

I am thankful for my body.

I am thankful for the way it carried me up and down the streets of San Francisco this morning in my search for an open corner store;

For how it frees me from the creative prison of my head when I am stuck, stuck, stuck on what to write next. And then, like a message from the deep a leg twitches, a suggestion to let the wisdom of movement do the work. Sure enough, a block or two, a mile of two later, an idea breaks loose and runs to freedom.

It is a body that at its authentic best loves to swing, twist, bend, contort, rhythmically and otherwise. It loves to dance.

It is a body that has achieved some milestones – a marathon on one occasion, a few lengthy hikes up some good-sized hills – but has never been truly tested in that regard. Rather, it is one that has allowed me to move freely, quickly, energetically and deliberately forward in the every day; up stairs (two at a time), on a busy sidewalk, through a tedious market, museum or mall. Ever faster. Let’s go! A body that has had to double-back more than once to collect the kids who have been left behind in an urgent march to ‘get there.’

It is a body that has provided the physical bridge, a somatic connection, to the love of my life, the embrace of my children, the warm hug of friendship. It is a hand-holding, arms interlocking, head resting on shoulder, leaning on sort of body. One that has conformed itself to both the huddled embrace of sadness and the exuberant ‘high five’ of joyful celebration. It is a body that has expressed the longing of the heart when words could not be found.

It is a healthy body, most of all. Not a ‘specimen’ mind you, but healthy. And is it ages, a bit less flexible here and there, a bit rusty here and there, I am ever more thankful for how well it has done its work. And I am ever more committed to taking care of it as long as it will have me.

I am thankful for my body.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

 

Get Moving

“I realized that – in spite of all the risks involved – a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity.”

– Olga Tokarczuk, Flights


You don’t have to go anywhere to be in motion. And you can go everywhere and be frozen in place.

What counts, what matters, and what I subject to you for consideration on this first Sunday of autumn, is that you move forward with that which moves you.

Get to work. Make your mark. From your chair, your home, your neighborhood, school or workplace. From the most remote island on the planet. It doesn’t matter where. All that matters is what.

The leaves are going to fall. But that’s an act of living, not of dying.

Whatever it is you’re here to do, get moving…go do it.

In spite of all the risks involved.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

Movement is Life

You’re not stuck. You’re just not moving. It’s a choice.

We know that physical movement is essential for a healthy life. And the evidence is mounting that short bursts of activity are just as valuable, sometimes even more so, than long workouts.

The same goes for your project, book, program, idea, concept or initiative.

Its viability over time is wholly dependent on you breathing life into some piece of it, some small piece.

You will never create a facsimile of what’s in your imagination. It just doesn’t work that way. But what it does become may just delight and inspire you in ways you can not predict. The sooner you get moving, the sooner you’ll find out.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world

Telephone Poles, Fence Posts and Railroad Ties

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I routinely make the mistake of downloading hundreds of podcasts to my iPhone because I have no clue how to successfully navigate the new iTunes interface. The old one was fine and I am slow to change. So be it. (Yes, I am a curmudgeon in training.)

One of my favorite podcasts is This American Life by Ira Glass. Since it usually airs on Sunday afternoons I rarely hear it live so the podcast is a God-send. Scrolling through my hundreds of unlistened-to recordings in the car the other day I came across this one: Episode 494 – Hit the Road. The first story is of a young man, Andrew Forsthoefel, who decides upon losing his job to walk from Philadelphia to the Pacific Ocean wearing a sign that says “Walking to Listen.” It’s an incredible, beautifully told adventure and one you deserve to hear for plenty of reasons and especially for his interview with a man named Otho Rogers of Melrose, NM.

At age 73, Mr. Rogers reflects ruefully and honestly on the passage of time and his personal loss of physical ability. You ache with him when he describes the shame of having to climb a fence rail to mount his horse when all he wants is to be able to get his foot in the stirrup and haul himself up the way he used to do without a thought or a care.

Mr. Rogers thoughtfully describes our shifting perspective on time as the difference between viewing telephone poles, fence posts and railroad ties as you drive along the road. The longer we live the less space there is between each marker and that the accelerating vehicle that is our life in the span of time gets moving so quickly that the railroad ties of everyday existence become a blur of activity speeding to the certainty of our final moments.

We come to know in a real and often painful way that time is both unstoppable and completely unsympathetic to our plight: that we have what we have and how we spend it is completely up to us.

And to that end, Mr. Forsthoefel shares his own response to a question he asked of many people he met during his journey: what advice would you give to your younger self?

His answer is a guide for all of us, whether we are counting by poles, posts or ties.

You know exactly what to do.

There’s no need to be afraid.

Keep walking.