I'm grateful for you
Last summer, somewhere in Eastern Oregon, my discomfort with being out in the open dissipated. Living just outside New York City, I'm accustomed to the constant buzz of activity - crowded streets, leaf blowers, bright lights, and an overload of stimulation.
During the early days of my ride across America, I felt alone and vulnerable. Sure, I would reunite with my wife and two dogs each afternoon, but as I pedaled through the Mountain West, it was predominantly just cattle and little ol' me.
Being unable to connect to a device left me with nothing but the sounds of nature, my gears and rolling tires, my breathing, and the occasional passing pickup truck.
In this emptiness, I started to feel a powerful connection.
This week, I interviewed Mike Brcic for The Kintsugi Podcast: Stories of Connection. Mike, a natural connector, recently led a group of entrepreneurs to Mongolia, one of the least densely populated countries in the world (2 people/sq km, compared to New Jersey's 488 people/sq km).
He shared a poignant reflection, which he posted on LinkedIn, from Maria Dakas, who went on the trip, that resonates deeply with my own experiences:
"I felt alone but never lonely. In the immensity of it all, I was enveloped by a sense of emptiness, yet I felt so full. Surrounded by life, presence, awe, community, the elements of nature, and an overwhelming sense of wildness.
Stripped of material distractions, I was filled with everything that truly felt alive.
Exploring the origin of 'alone,' I found it stems from the Middle English 'allone,' originally 'all oon' or 'all one,' from the Old English 'eall ān,' meaning 'completely alone.' Over time, we've lost sight of this deeper meaning.
In essence, we were - and perhaps still are - Completely All+One."
As we approach the holiday season and conclude another challenging year, I invite you to ponder our interconnectedness.
During my executive career, I would leave a voicemail (yes, I'm dating myself) before holidays like Thanksgiving. These messages were about appreciation, gratitude, and an invitation for solitude and reflection - a chance for each team member to acknowledge their ripple and set thoughtful intentions for the future.
As the United States gears up for Thanksgiving, I extend this same invitation to you. Take a moment to disconnect, immerse yourself in nature, wander, and revel in awe.
Amidst flooding inboxes of pre-Black Friday promotions, it's easy to lose sight of what truly matters. How did we get here? Pre-Black Friday?!? SMH.
It makes me feel sad as companies try to flush the wonderful out of this time of year. And I do get it; we want to get our shopping done as quickly as possible so we can enjoy the holidays, but I wonder if our relentless pursuit of stuff is fracturing our wholeness.
And let's be honest - there are always better deals later in the season.
So this year, like we did last year, along with iconic brands REI and Patagonia, we are hopping off our hamster wheels this coming week and weekend, pausing and seeking moments of reflection in nature.
I've actually declared November 24th the Official Unofficial World Pause Breathe Reflect Day.
When I return, I will share some karma to make our app and calming swag accessible to more like-hearted humans - so stay tuned.
Thank you for connecting with our like-hearted community this year. I appreciate you. We've had challenging moments, and we've done hard things. Together, we have proven that we can go far and are not alone.
Thank you for the ripple you've put into the world.
The world needs your energy!