Sunday, March 28, 2010

Matchbox Revenge

Marcy Jerrigan had quite a knack for speaking her mind, judging from the life story she had managed to write so far.
“What a hag, how positively rude….”

Marcy slammed on her brakes, the rear wheels losing their grip as a putrid cloud poured in the driver’s side window. The smell of burning rubber overpowered her Design perfume.

Nothing like idiots to top off a lovely day……

The other driver glanced in Marcy’s direction, a caustic smile forming, a wink of the eye. She never stopped, driving on with a fluid motion. A seasoned driver if there ever was one, Marcy thought.

Her anger management classes never seemed to prepare her for reality. After her marriage, or what was nearly a marriage had fallen apart for her, a two year cycle of disastrous relationships followed, leaving her a bundle of frustration, and at times envious of her sister Jan. The one who always seems so happy, the perfect little housewife. Oh, the boredom of it all.

As she sat at the traffic light, seething, a sudden motion caught Marcy’s eye. Glancing toward the other driver, nonchalantly so as to not make her think she was looking, a wicked smile greeted her,then the other driver accented it a quick wink. She puckered up and blew Marcy a kiss, and threw her head back in laughter. The twisted, sarcastic expression she had on her face was enough to make steam come out of Marcy’s ears.

Marcy’s face was convulsing by now, sweat pouring off her forehead, the wrinkles forming deep lines from one side to the other. If only looks could kill……
The skin on her face drew back, a deep shade of red taking over her pale complexion. The anger management classes had worn off. She watched the other driver pull into the grocery store parking lot.

Light streamed in through the side window, highlighted a sparsely appointed control panel. A control lever, four buttons, and a small but detailed high resolution screen. Looking out the wraparound windshield, Metropolis Boulevard looked like a line drawn in the sand, directly below her. “Wow, much less traffic up here.”

Her new ride hovered well above the road below, making the cars look more like Matchboxes.

Marcy ran her hand across the four buttons, wondering. Pushing the green button to the far left, the screen lit up, giving a bird’s eye view of the action below. She discovered the button also contained a swivel, which allowed her to move her view top to bottom and side to side. Pushing down, the telescopic zoom moved in with a clarity and precision that made it feel like she was about to crash into the subject below. “Cool….”

Moving in close enough to see the rust marks on the top of the moving company’s truck through the cross hairs on her monitor (“Looks like I’m looking through a periscope.”), she reached over and pushed the red button. A slight mist, or at least that’s what she thought she saw, and the truck vanished. Marcy sat back in amazement for a moment, then smiled wryly.

“I wonder if the blue button is detonation…...” She pushed the third button and nothing happened.

“Hmmmmm……….must be broke.”

The orange button did nothing obvious, but a click sounded from below the panel.

“Need to learn how to use this thing.”

Grabbing the stick to her left, Marcy found she could steer the device by moving the control lever in different directions, like a joystick.

She was seeing Johnston in a different light. From high above she could see everything.

Zeroing in on the intersection of Metropolis and Rosston, the traffic light turned yellow, with heavy traffic on both sides. A young lady in the left lane slowed to stop, and the car behind her abruptly swung around her, cutting off another car, and blew through the intersection, running a red light in the process. Marcy looked at the monitor and mumbled, “Idiot.”

Focusing in with the green button, she discovered once a vehicle was locked in, an automatic tracking system took over and kept the target in its sight. Pushing the red button, the car vanished.

Hmmm……This is too easy.

Payback time. Guess some folks never learn. Well, it’s their day of reckoning, I’ve just gotta find ‘em. Come out, come out, wherever you are, darlings……

Flying south towards Miller Park, Marcy kept the zoom in high power mode, to scan for people of interest. She pulled back on the control lever to slow down, seeing a pretty young lady walking down the sidewalk, a dog on the leash. An older man, probably in his sixties from a glance, turned and watched her walk by, following every movement, his eyes scanning the full gamut of her young figure. Marcy pulled the trigger. Funny, nobody even notices these people when they disappear. They just walk right on through where he was standing.

The small downtown area was full of activity, with only a few weeks left of shopping. Temps were crisp but bearable, and the trees, for the most part, had already shed their leaves for the season. Tinsel and lights painted the town’s restored street lamps, the feeling of nostalgia permeating the senses. Marcy pulled back on the zoom, taking in the festive scene, enjoying the view. Scanning the busy intersection ahead, she saw nothing of interest, only festive shoppers behaving themselves. Then something caught her eye.

In the coffee shop ahead, window table, next to the door. Matt Sturges. That worthless…………And he sure didn’t waste any time, he’s already got him a hottie sitting next to him. Guess he didn’t have to wait after he dumped me, greener pastures and all that jazz. It’s only been a week, sure seems like longer. Oh well. I wonder….if I zap them one at a time, maybe they won’t find each other wherever they end up. Actually, they deserve each other’s company. Bye bye-

As she watched, an older couple sat down at the now empty table, smiling, enjoying the light snow falling outside, now mingling with the lights.

Marcy got a smug look on her face, one that could be taken as wicked, and turned west bound. Flying high and keeping the zoom set high, she hovered over a large split level house then zoomed in on the mailbox.


She recognized the BMW in the driveway, then zeroed in on the house. I wonder if this thing works on something this big? Hitting the red button with her fist, the house vanished, leaving the car sitting abandoned in the driveway. She zoomed in on the car, and touched the orange button, out of curiosity. The car vanished, but a much smaller Matchbox size version popped out of a compartment below the console, like a vending machine. Marcy smiled and examined the toy, and saw miniature papers and a briefcase in the back, along with a tiny umbrella on the passenger seat.

“It’s his car! I can’t believe the luck!”

Looking back down at the empty lot, she said, “He should have left me the house.”

The sun was shining again, as if on cue. Marcy raised her hands up in victory; Life is good.

She headed over toward the mall, hoping she could park her new ride close to the doors. Scanning the parking lot, she got a birds eye view of something she loved dearly. A prime parking spot was opening up, right up front. Pulling in the zoom, she watched and waited.

There she goes, she saw it. Oops, there’s another one. This should be good……

A young lady in a VW turned up the next aisle over, driving through a shopping cart left out in the drive area, then cut into the aisle with the vacant spot. Like a cat sneaking around the corner, ready to pounce.

I can’t believe she’s worried about going the right way. And that shopping cart…..she’s worse than I ever thought of.

A lady in a van saw the spot, turning up the wrong aisle, then in the parking spot sideways, amid a fury of horn blowing and shouting.

Should I wait until the fighting is over?

The young lady pulled up behind the van, parked her car inches away, and turned off the engine. Marcy, zooming in, saw a smile creep across her face, then a slight smirk. She started to open the door of the VW-

Not so fast.

Marcy pushed the first button. She smiled and said, “Loser” as the VW vanished.

Out of the corner of her eye, a guy driving a Civic drove slowly down the next aisle over, slowing as he passed a couple of open spots, then he pulled in a spot at the back of the lot. She aimed, then pushed the button twice, just to make sure. Looking at her screen, a note popped up at the bottom right hand corner: Level 3 Enlightened
“Cool, a scorecard.”

Following the main road back toward her apartment, she zeroed in on a red Toyota sedan, driving way slow.

“They’re gonna wreck, I can’t believe it.”

The guy on the cell phone never saw the truck turning in front of him. With no time to waste, she aimed and fired.

Oops, wrong vehicle. Marcy leaned back and cackled as the truck ceased to exist. At least the wreck had been avoided.
Following the Toyota, she marveled at the fact he never noticed the truck, never stopped talking, and was oblivious to the world.

He’s fixing to be oblivious….Ready, aim, fire.

Marcy pushed the second button by mistake. A grinding sound came up from below the control panel, and a compartment opened up directly below her. She reached in and picked up a Matchbox size truck, just like the one she had zapped. She took a closer look, peering in the driver’s side window. The driver was gone, but she could barely make out a small purse on the passenger seat, and an old tire in the back. She pulled her glasses down, straining to see, but unable to see any more details.

I hate being forty Can’t read a thing.

Marcy noticed a drip come from the bottom of her new toy.

Oil leak? You’ve got to be kidding me. This is the truck I zapped!

Looking out the side window, enjoying the sunshine starting to peek through, she remembered.

Marcy’s left eyebrow arched, she crinkled her forehead, and smiled. Her eyes were gleaming and starting to glass over.

“Oh yes.”

As she approached the grocery store parking lot, she said, “I hope she’s doing her shopping for a week. I’ll never find her if she’s already left.”
Scanning the parking lot, first from afar and then zoomed in, she saw her. Unmistakable. Coming out the front door, pushing a cart overflowing with groceries, smiling.

I think it would be more fun to land this thing and just jack slap her. Or I could hit the second button and use her for a pin cushion. Ahhhh, decisions…..Naaa, I don’t want to have to look at her any more……. Bye bye, baby.

She locked in the zoom, the pushed the button. The grocery cart disappeared as well.

Marcy laughed as she turned east, while increasing in altitude for a better look of the city. A red Corvette passed underneath, driving well over the speed limit.

Always wanted one on my dresser.

She zeroed in and pushed the orange button. The Matchbox dropped out of the drawer under the control panel, and Marcy examined the car, admiring the sleek lines.

Smells like alcohol…..

I think it’s time to start a car collection. Let’s see, where to start…..

“I think I’ll have that Lexus , and how about a Mustang, oh, let’s make that a convertible. Love the Spyder up ahead too; maybe the guy driving it will come up here and help me drive. And there’s a motor home. Wonder if it’ll fit in the compartment? Maybe it shrinks to the same size as the cars, not to scale. There’s a yellow Hummer, nice. Where’s a Viper when you need one? And a Porsche, a few more convertibles for sunny days, and…….”

A red Beetle convertible pulled out on the thoroughfare, the driver a pretty blonde twenty something, nice tan, beautiful even from a distance.
She disappeared almost as quick as Marcy saw her. She looked down and got a serious look on her face.

“Need an undo button.” She hit the blue button again, with no response.

Driving down Metropolis, Marcy glanced out her driver’s window as she hit the brakes, slowing for a traffic light. She smiled and sipped from her water bottle, enjoying the festive holiday decorations. She glanced upwards, still keeping an eye on the road, but looking all the same.

“Coast is clear. No traffic controllers flying tonight.”

Her mood enlightened, Marcy smiled at the bicycle rider who rode in the right lane, slowing her to a crawl. She calmly eased around him when oncoming traffic passed. A red Civic pulled up behind her driving much faster than she, then pulled in the next lane before whipping in front of her, with barely a bumper length to spare.

“Hmmmm……must be running late. Wonder if the girl’s in labor?”

Marcy pulled up beside a BMW, looking over at the familiar color.

Bill Jerrigan….I thought I zapped him into a new time zone..

A young, twenty something girl smiled and waved, and Bill looked over Marcy’s way and smiled. Marcy shook her head and laughed, saying “I knew it was too good to last…”

Her peaceful, serene drive was shattered by a blaring horn, in close proximity, judging from the loudness. Marcy jerked the car back into the right lane, amidst the screaming of her fellow driver. Looking over with mild interest, Marcy said, “What’s her problem?”

Hmmm…..You know, if I ever figure out how to build that device I’ll be very wealthy, but I’d surely end up blown off the map. Have to go into hiding; I know I’d be on a few people’s list……

Sitting at a traffic light, something caught her attention. She reached down in the floorboard, picking up a Matchbox size truck. She held it close, looking in the toy’s driver side window.

As the first horn sounded behind her, Marcy smiled. The green reflection off the traffic light spread across her windshield.

I think they'll look good sitting on my dresser.........

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Finding Innovation Inspiration, by Darcy Eikenberg

Finding Innovation Inspiration - By Darcy Eikenberg

Let's pause for a moment to celebrate three unique innovators who died this year: Curtis Allina, Art Clokey, and Walter Morrison.

What--you haven't heard of them? I bet you know their creations well: Pez, Gumby, and Frisbee.

I dare you not to grin when saying those three words! Pez, Gumby, and Frisbee collectively represent fun, silliness, play, and many more happy emotions we want in our lives today.

When each of these gentlemen's obituaries appeared within a month of each other, it made me pause. What lessons did their innovations teach? As I strive to be more creative and innovative, what inspiration can I take from their journeys? After exploring their lives and legacies further, here are the top three things I discovered:

1. Great Innovation Can Happen Even if Life's Hard
You'd think that if you were a master of something as creative, as inventive, as FUN as any of these three playthings, that you probably lived a charmed life. But that was far from the truth:

• Clokey was sent to live in a children's home when his mom's new husband rejected him after his natural father died in a car accident.

• Allina's family perished in concentration camps in the 40s, leaving him as the sole survivor.

• Morrison, a WWII pilot, was shot down and spent 48 days as a prisoner of war in Stalag 13.

Those setbacks didn't get in their way--in fact, they may have led to even greater creativity and innovation. For example, Morrison's aeronautic skills helped him refine his original flying disc. The abandoned Clokey was eventually adopted by a well-known composer who introduced him to an artistic life that certainly led him to pick up a handful of clay.

2. Accept Whatever Comes
Gumby's 1956 debut on "The Howdy Doody Show" led the stop-motion character to his own short-lived series and ongoing syndication. But his popularity faded in the 70's, and creator Clokey struggled financially, according to published accounts.

Then a young comedian named Eddie Murphy played a foul-talking Gumby on Saturday Night Live in the 80's. Many expected Clokey--the man who created TV's religious-toned "Davey and Goliath" and who once planned to become an Episcopal priest--to be shocked and ashamed at how his creation was mangled.

But according to interviews, he loved it, although he was happy it was on late at night when children were sleeping (remember, this was the pre-TiVo era.) By accepting someone else's interpretation and going with the affectionate outpouring, the edgy performance rejuvenated Gumby, and put the green guy in the hands of a whole new generation.

3. You Don't Have to Create to be Creative
Pez was originally a Viennese mint, marketed to adults as an alternative to smoking. In fact, the stemmed dispenser was designed to look like a cigarette lighter. When the idea emerged to repackage the candy for children, company exec Allina had to persuade the conservative, European home office that the change would make sense.

Pez historian (now there's a job!) David Welch told The New York Times that no one really knows exactly whose idea it was to put heads on Pez dispensers. However, Welch shared, "The idea came from the United States. And for the idea to have come out of the United States and made it to Austria where it could be approved, Allina was the only guy who could have made that happen."

So whether Allina actually envisioned a Santa head on a stack of peppermints, we'll never know. But he was the one to enable the creative move, to actually make it happen, and in the end, is credited with making the now multi-million dollar industry come to life. Not a bad legacy.

Speaking of legacy, it is worth noting one other thing these three men had in common. They all lived long lives: Pez's Allina passed away at 87. Gumby animator Clokey died at 88; and Morrison, Frisbee's father, died at 90. They left behind not only their respective innovations, but also buckets of inspiration for the creative spirit in all of us.

Where do you find your innovation inspiration--at work, outdoors, or at home in your garage? From music, TV, or a stroll through the mall? Who inspires you most--people you know well, or people you've only known from afar?

** To comment on this article or to read comments about this article,
go here.

About the Author:

Darcy Eikenberg, ACC, is an accomplished coach, consultant and business leader, with experience motivating individual and team behavior to achieve business results. Her focus is coaching and mentoring aspiring individuals and professionals/teams needing guidance and support. Before founding Coach Darcy LLC, Darcy was Principal, Internal Coach, and Senior Communication Consultant at Hewitt Associates. Darcy is VP, Marketing for the Georgia Coach Association and a graduate of Northwestern University.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Laughter Behind the Tears

I still remember that first encounter in June of 2003. I was told up front, before we ever reached the duplex I was looking at to purchase, that the seller’s agent should speak to Judith, that she doesn’t like talking to strangers. My first investment property. A new experience for sure, but I had no idea what I would be dealing with people wise.

As I walked through the three room shotgun home, an old mill house built in the 1920’s, Judith stood in the corner, quiet, her arms pulled upward like a frightened child. I did not speak, but I made eye contact and nodded. She recoiled.

I purchased that first property, and I inherited two sets of tenants that had issues, some of which were not of their own doings. A state run agency helped them to live on their own by taking their disability checks and paying bills first (including rent and utilities,) then giving the sparse remainder to the tenant.
Judith turned out to be one of the warmest hearted people I have crossed paths with, but with an exterior as rough as I have encountered. She had spent time in jail for beating a man so bad he nearly died. Something about him making a move on her. The crusty ‘ole shell was effective enough; it kept out what she desperately wanted to avoid- anyone that could hurt her, and that covered pretty much everyone. A nearly impenetrable fa├žade that blocked at friendships at all costs, for fear of rejection.

Over time she took a liking to me, in large part because I spoke to her like an equal, as though she was worth something. I heard this theme from several of my tenants in the old mill town, over the next few years; no one else had ever treated them like they were worth something. As though they were human and worthy of being on the planet.

The neighbors always smiled and shook their heads, talking about that crazy lady. “Somebody’s gonna end up killing her, with that big mouth of hers.” Everyone knew Judith, for better or for worse. She did, as I found over time, have a few old friends who watched after her. Her precious few insiders shared a common thread. They all thought Judith was a wonderful, caring person who had lived a tough life. What brings a person to this point of no hope for a better life?
Judith would call me at times, just to talk. I would not hear from her for weeks at a time, a result of her medication and mood swings. The conversations seemed to help her to cope with life, and release some of her overwhelming anger, without spewing it out on someone else. She was loud, and at times full of venom she could not seem to contain. She got mad and punched her hand through a window at the apartment one day. I can’t remember all the times the police came out, either because she called them or someone called because of her.

Judith was a brutally honest as anyone I have ever met, both in her opinions and in dealing with others. She never backed down from anyone, and I believe she could have decked any man, any time if she took a notion. At the same time, if she was walking behind her worst enemy, someone she despised, and the person dropped a ten dollar bill, Judith would have run him down to return it. She was just that way; honest to a fault, to the point she sometimes had no money for food because she gave it away. She couldn’t stand to see someone go without, and she was taken advantage of at times.
People like this seem to be an easy target for predators and control freaks.

After Judith reached a point in her life where she could not live alone, someone new moved in, a month after Judith moved to a place where she could have a roommate and more constant care.

At first, it seemed my investment in Tara would cost less time, although I didn’t mind the conversations with Judith. Tara seemed normal at first, I suppose because she took her medication as described. By the time the schizophrenia was more obvious, she had started mixing illegal drugs and booze with the prescription meds, and all predictability went out the window. When Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007, Tara decided to change her appearance as a tribute to the Hollywood star. I drove by one day and saw a bleach blonde; she was wearing eveningwear that looked like it had been painted on. On the front porch of course. She also “idolized” the 80’s pop star Billy Idol. Just before her oppressive boyfriend made arrangements to move her out, she reached a point that she thought Elvis lived in the attic of her apartment. What events in her life led up to this point? I recall the last interaction I had with her, a message I received-

hey craig,,,i am so glad to hear from you,,,yes i am in the area.if you read my profiel i see the future and can do things like i know its a sin but talk to the dead,,i never let noone close to me who meet me know,,,they dont understand,amen.but i would love to do you a reading,,lets see,,i see an older women whos been in your life your grandmother i beleve.she wore dresses and had grey hair and loved church.amen she showes me a yellow you understand a yellow rose,,,only you and her would know this amen,shes showing me a piece of wood,like a 2 bye 4 but old wood,amen..she showing me a hammer,,,,,are you remolding,,,do you understand what shes try ing to tell are say,she showing me a little blond haired girl about 2 or 5 yrs old,amen,,,,her hair is in a pony tail,,long blond,buetyful child,amen shes pointing out easter to me,,,colorful eggs,she sayys she loves you..amendid you ever fix her hair,she showes me you fixing her hair .when she was younger she had dark hair buetyful women amen,her age in heaven is about 24 and thin and in perfect health,,,she points out to me her heart was a problem when she was alive,,,now its perfect,amen she says you are found of rainbows amen...shes showing me a red rose for love,amen and a bush in front of a home,on the left hand side,,,i do beleve this is where she lived,amen.this bush you remeber,she said...........i know this all sounds strange but i gagttta find friends who know the real me your the first i have opened up to.beside billy idol.i tried to be the next sylia brown thru him,,,but instead i failed,so i am out here ,trying to be exsepted as who i am your my new friend who knowes my secret within,,,i talk to the still like me,?i admired you alot,you made me nervious and felt like a child with a crush

She craved someone in her life that would accept her, just like she was. She longed for acceptance, just like so many others in the area. People looking for a new start, but without changing the old habits that put them there in the first place. Or unable to shake the skeletons in their respective closets long enough for a new beginning. Like Judith, Tara was addicted to smoking and other habits that she took to the extreme. She was wide open to predators coming in her life, the ones faking affection to get what they wanted.

One common thread with both Judith and Tara was this: they cherished time spent with them more than having things. They craved the chance to belong, to be cared for. Something they missed out on growing up. The old, worn down mill town was full of the affects of broken homes, abuse, missing love. And the effects of living there still makes it that much tougher to get out.

Another person that touched my life was Peggy. She passed away of a heart attack a couple of months ago, and I did not know until after the funeral. Her kids were jealous of me I think; she thought so highly of me. I did get a call after the fact, letting me know she was cremated and the remains released somewhere in Alabama.
She seemed to have her own guardian angel at times, a reward for a very kind heart. She had nothing bad to say about anyone unless they gave her a good reason.
Twice a year, Peggy went through a couple of weeks of depression and crying spells; the anniversary of her husband’s death and his birthday. She still considered herself married all the years after his unexpected death, and she never forgot, never stopped mourning. She was truly a warm hearted soul, who like the others, craved time spent with people she truly cared about.

I always went out and collected rent from Peggy in person, and had a conversation with her. We either sat on a chair on the front porch, or during cold snaps or on the occasion she could not get up, we would sit in the living room, where she sometimes slept. She always talked about things important in her life, which meant I heard about people. Her son in Florida, the daughter who lived with her, her husband of so many years. A picture of her husband always sat in the room, along with family photos. She asked me once to do some photos of her and her daughter/grandkids, but she never could get everyone together at the same time when I could be there. I’ll always regret that.

Pictures and stories, they’re so valuable. I’m writing down the many stories I collected from the old mill town, but no one let me take photos. I’ll bet they had trouble looking in the mirror as well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Fear Factor

My throat was dry before I ever uttered the first word. You see, fear has a way of taking over every thread of normalcy, a dread far worse than the worst outcome you can imagine. My fear began with a simple statement: “Sure, I’ll speak on Tuesday.”
Now what can happen that is so bad? Let me start from the beginning.

First things first, gotta make it to the podium without falling, and that’s no easy task, believe me. Three steps up, all requiring perfect precision. One misstep, and life as I know it will be over. On my face, amid throws of laughter, can’t let on that my back hurts. Or worse. Maybe I could joke my way out of it. “Hey, I meant to do that.” Problem is, my mind is so blank I can’t even remember my name. Good thing I brought notes to read. And just in case, my name is printed at the top of each page. What if I forgot something?
Now the first thing I notice, as I pick up the microphone and face my doubters, is something really annoying…..everyone is staring at me. Something wrong? You never saw somebody up here before? Okay, no problem. They’re gonna stare, it’s a given. So what am I gonna do? Let’s see…I could turn around, sit in a chair, and give my 12 minute speech that way. No problem, ‘cept my wife and her best friend are on row 2. Throwing distance for sure, and maybe “sneaking up on me and tickling me” distance. Now they’re both great supporters of what I’m doing, don’t get me wrong. But if I turn my back, anything goes. If I’m lucky, they’ll just throw something at me. Maybe paper wads. Or hold up a funny sign and take a picture. But deep in my heart, or maybe in the pit of my stomach, I figure they’ll come up and start tickling me. I won’t even know they’re coming until I squeal at the top of my lungs, microphone still pressed to my lips. Not a pretty sound, I assure you. She isn’t even ticklish, it isn’t fair. Makes me want to wrap my arms around my ribcage just thinking about it. And now, oh boy, I remember the game…..My youngest daughter taught me this one. I had to get at the deep end of the pool and start calling out colors. She was at the other end of the pool. When I called out the color she had chosen, the hunt began. Silently, slowly at first, like a cat slinking through the brush, getting ready to pounce. She started swimming towards me, the object of the game to reach me before I heard her and turned around. Think it was called “Torture Dad,” or something like that. So I’m wringing my hands, not even knowing why I keep calling out colors for the seventh time, I know she’s on her way. Ready to grab me by the back of the neck and pull me under. Not that she would try to drown her dad, but things do happen, I hear. I’ll say something funny, just to make her laugh. Just so I’ll hear her before it’s too late.
No, turning around is not an option. I have to stay focused.
Okay, might as well face my aggressors. Not much choice. You know, as I stand here at the podium, trying to be so calm and collected, something could come up from the back. I’ll just take a quick glance. Yep, there he is. Back there on the grassy knoll. I hear there’s somebody there. Matter of fact, I hear there may be two. You just never know. It’s what I hear, anyway. Don’t know who they are, it’s just what I hear.

What is this debilitating thing called fear?
Webster’s says it’s an unpleasant and often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
I say it’s being scared out of your wits, even if you know there is really nothing to worry about.
Terror is an advanced form of fear. It’s when you’ve graduated grammar school and made the big time. Everything quits working. This where you don’t want to start laughing because you may not be able to stop. All self control is gone at this point. Paranoia sets in and all rational thoughts are thrown out the window. Basically, you’re along for the ride.
Here are a few quotes I’ve come across:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear it'self - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
---- FDR - First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear."
--- H.P. Lovecraft

"A man who has been in danger,
When he comes out of it forgets his fears,
And sometimes he forgets his promises."
---- Euripides - Iphigenia in Tauris (414-12 BC)

Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it."
---- Lt. John B. Putnam Jr. (1921-1944)

"Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is."
---- German Proverb

"Sometimes the biggest thing separating us from our inspiration is fear."
----Samantha Brown

And my favorite, one that is the mantra of so many-
The cartoon character Charlie Brown once said "I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time."

The poster child for fear is Charlie Brown. Let’s face it, he couldn’t do anything right. When he walked to the pitcher’s mound, everyone knew he’d get decked by a line drive. And who always strikes out to end the game? Fly a kite? He’ll end up in a tangled mess, hopelessly tied up on the ground, just in time for Lucy to come by and let him have it. And let him pick the Christmas tree? Yeah, right. I don’t suppose he ever once woke up thinking he was a success. Don’t you wish just once he could have been a winner? All it would have taken was an encouraging word at the right time, a little luck on occasion, a mentor. Could have changed the whole story. But I wonder if the comic strip would have lost some readers; too many people sympathize with Charlie Brown. The poor ole down ‘n outer that he is, does it make you smile when you hear his name?

More words of wisdom from Charlie Brown:

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.'”

“It always looks darkest just before it gets totally black.”

“If I stand here, I can see the Little Red Haired girl when she comes out of her house... Of course, if she sees me peeking around this tree, she`ll think I`m the dumbest person in the world... But if I don`t peek around the tree, I`ll never see her... Which means I probably AM the dumbest person in the world... which explains why I`m standing in a batch of poison oak.”

A small amount of fear before an important speech serves a purpose – it encourages you to focus on your topic and avoid making a fool of yourself. However, some types of fear make you feel like escaping when it is not appropriate to do so.

No two people are alike, and we all have unique abilities to achieve greatness. Following someone else’s blueprint (comparing yourself to them) will cause feelings of inadequacy, and lead to your ignoring your own potential for achievement. This leads to fear that will hold you back from what only you are uniquely capable of doing. Be yourself, don’t pattern solely after others. Don’t feel unworthy when talented people come around, pull ideas from their skills to improve yourself.

We are born with only two fears, and they are for survival: a fear of falling and of loud noises. Everything else is learned. The good news is we can unlearn these fears.
There are three types to consider: External fears (fear of spiders, fear of flying,) Internal fears (low self esteem,) and Subconscious fears (self sabotage, feeling unworthy, fear of failure or success.)

My forty five minute discussion went okay, and in the end I believe it helped a few people. As is always the case, my fears never came to fruition. I felt a sense of accomplishment, like completing a long, tedious project that leaves you with a sense of satisfaction after it’s over. It’s good, at the end of the day, to say “I did it.”
What was I so afraid of?