I’m standing in Notre Dame cathedral, under the great vaults and the stained glass windows, admiring the vastness of space and also of time. Since the 13th century that cathedral has stood. On a whim, I decide to do something I’ve never done before and I fish out a 2 euro coin from my pocket and drop it in a tin.
It makes a clinking noise as it drops. I grasp a candle as I stand in front of one of my childhood heroes – Joan of Arc. I want to pay tribute but it’s not totally altruistic – I aspire to her help, her courage.
Now the point is to light your candle with a existing candle’s flame. But all the candles are so shallow (by which I mean, if you imagine a cylinder, the cylinder is not very tall) and the strings so short that I can’t seem to connect the string on my candle with the existing flame. I decide to fully invert my candle and cover another candle with my upside down candle to get the maximum reach…
And poof! The flame on the existing candle goes out. I sucked the oxygen out and smothered the flame. I’m embarrassed and l should know better (I took science, right?) but hey I’m gonna try again with my candle… And it works! In other words, one flame dies but another rises in its place.
(“So enough with the symbolism, what’s your point?”) Well I think there’s two things that I’m trying to communicate with that story. First, I realized on my trip that there’s an expiry date on offers of love and affection. And if I could now somehow openly retract mine without coming across as an asshole, I would. Love offers remaining open ultimately put one at risk of ending up like Neil Patrick Harris’ character in Gone Girl (great movie by the way) – used and stabbed in the throat with a boxcutter.
The reason is that the subject of my affections has been in a position of strength and also knowledge (or at least reasonable certainty) of my intentions for some time. She has had the opportunity and not seized it. And hence, even if she were ultimately to be swayed to me, most likely it would be because she had fallen from a position of strength to a position of weakness. But that would not be love, only neediness. As Wagner wrote, “only the strong can love the strong.” In a way, it is craven to hold on and hope – maturity and growth equate to moving on.
The flip side of the coin is that while it remains outstanding, the love offer must be sincere and open and clear. And I am doing my best to be more emotionally honest (with myself in recognizing earlier how I feel and with other people) and more fun and warm-hearted generally. It takes a lot of work and self reprogramming.
Now, the second thing that this story represents is the rebirth of self. After an amazing first year, I had begun to stagnate in SF. This two month long break has afforded me the opportunity to stand back and rebuild around core principles (aka New Years resolutions? Perhaps).
And I think these principles will be – 1) don’t consume (unless it’s knowledge), create 2) say yes to everything and 3) do the Dale Carnegie stuff but don’t lose sight of the things that make you unique, special, an Outsider.
I can elaborate more on these principles and how I settled on them – zero to one, trip to Cambridge w Mikael, Julia, etc., but let’s leave these for another time.
The small changes are going to be probably joining the O Club. And the big question is whether to settle down and stabilize or swing for the fences? But I’m starting to realize it’s the wrong question – as long as I have space and energy to create and think and specialize more than in my job, I can go from zero to one.
And I can go from zero to one in my job as well.