Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Connecting Dots

The final sentence in the third chapter of The Good Year will soon be written. The end of any great adventure is a time both to lament and to appreciate. I have no choice but to say goodbye to a special chapter in my life and to lock it away in a place where it can live with me as long as I let it. The reentry to Denver life, to the luxuries of American living and the demands of the real world, have already begun to queue, waiting patiently for wheels down. I say let them wait. I'll be home soon enough.

Looking back I have to remind myself that taking big risks means reveling in the wins and coping with the loses.  The last seven months deserve a fair assessment. Chapter 1 in San Francisco was a clear and resounding win. From meaningful work to falling head over heels fora new city, from new friends to never ending bike rides, my heart was content.

In Chapter 2  I gave up more than I took. Sure Costa Rica was a new place full of new faces but locked away on a rainy campus with stacks of reading and so-so lectures left me feeling a little trapped for no good reason. The beaches were a nice escape, but I lived in a world outside of foreign culture away from the language practice I so desperately needed and wondering what else I should be learning to get the most out of this little piece of paper I've heard so much about called an MBA. 

Then there's Panama. Oh Panama. I would hate to call chapter 3 a total wash. While my two months here could never be compared to the backpacker sojourn through South America I had dreamed up, I did carve out a little life. Panama, I know what it's like to inhabit your streets, to make my way across the Punta de Las Americas, party all night in Prive and explore the culture of Casco Viejo. The work project was enlightening, my group a constant challenge but good challenged, and  life in a new city forced me to take a good long look at myself, an American making his way somewhere in a world that feels only slightly far from home. In the rear view mirror I know that sight of the ocean from our apartment, the late nights arguing over the nuances of business strategy, and the practice living life at another pace will look like a win. So I'll count it. Chapter 3: In the bank.

It's easy to look forward at the pitfalls and opportunities and judge life now based on what might lie ahead. But if I take a moment to look back at where I've been it's hard to call life a wash. How anyone can connect the dots from snowboard racing to People Magazine writer to  bartender to political campaign manager to speech writer to international MBA to San Francisco to Costa Rica to Panama to this blog and straight to your screen is anyone's guess. But here we are. Dots connected.

This past summer I was given some unexpected advice from respected executive. He shared with me the secret to chalking up the big W  after it's all said and done. His formula  is simple: "He who has the best stories at the end, wins."

In five days I'll be back in Denver. Where the dots will connect from there is anybody's guess.

Welcome to The Good Year.
Chapter 4. 


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