Look Back, or Ahead: Your Call

“We have to work to make sure these things, these hardships and these setbacks don’t define us. This isn’t the sum total of who we are – this is our current circumstance, that’s all. It’s the same as believing falling off a bike means we’re failures. There’s no failure here, unless we refuse to get back up and ride again…”

A quotable quote I found in my inbox this morning I wanted to share with you.

I like to start my day at Nelly’s Organic Coffee in Oakland’s Montclair district. I crawl out of bed, put myself together and head down to write some words and sip my a double dry cappuccino, which Claudia has waiting for me. I don’t always show up at the same time every day, yet she seems to always have one ready for me. I flirt with her a bit to make her giggle, this exhausted mother of small children, working her tail off to make ends meet. I ask her how she manages to have all of these balls in the air at the same time.

“I want a better life.” She says this without her normal electric smile. She means it. I believe her.

Tonight we are launching the new version of Straight Male Friend, our advice blog for women. We have worked tirelessly to pull it together- we have thought about using the right words, the best colors, the most platforms;  tonight the new site goes live. I wrote a goodbye post on the old Blogger site, thinking that maybe…someday, this will be unearthed in the archives of this vast, permanent Internet; a digital breadcrumb, an otherwise unspectacular little post that foretold something special.

Maybe we’ll be at a cool lounge drinking Cristal one night down the road, reminiscing about how it was “then”…when it was just a dream, a concept unfulfilled, a possibility.

The marketplace will be the judge.

I have been asked why I like this idea (the brainchild of Marcus Osborne) so much; I have been chided for not working on something “better”. This site helps me as much as I hopes it helps others. It helps me learn about myself, and I can channel some angst and joy and pain and bliss into words that work. Men are often dismissed for their lack of emotional muscle and our clumsy attempts to connect with women at the most personal level. I talk to women all the time about this site, and I notice a universal reaction from them: they lock eyes with me and hang onto every word I say. This tells me that there is a need for this kind of community- an ongoing conversation with women about men, from the perspective of guys who aren’t named Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil, or Dr. Oz.

You have two choices in this life. Look at your current situation and consider yourself a “failure”, the payback you  so richly deserve for doing it all wrong in the past, or you can recognize that the situation you find yourself in is not special or precious, it’s been shared by billions of others, and you will climb out of it. Get back on the bike, and pedal…pedal…ride forward.

I start my day at Nelly’s because it is neutral territory. The environment is warm and welcoming. I could be a billionaire or practically homeless, and no one would know. This coffee shop is the equalizer. There is no representation of success or failure in this cozy little space. Here, everything is possible.

I will start new ventures, and keep starting them, until one sticks. I have plenty of “stuff”, like we all do, but this part of me I trust. I can go to this part of my being and know I will keep going. I tell you this because I want you to find that part of you that you trust, and go there. Count on it, lean on it and depend on it. It will never fail you.

We made it to the starting line. It took a year. It’s go time.

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