CHALLENGING THE UNKNOWN

The following piece from my new collection “CREEK SONGS (and Other Seductions), is certainly one of my personal favorites. One of the first comic books I bought as a kid was Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown. Over time, it has emerged as my all time favorite – quite a distinction when you consider that we’re talking about a kid who started collecting comics in 1962…and still does.

 

No regrets. No shame. I still LOVE the expensive little piles of paper.

 

But that’s a topic for another time. I still love the Challengers, because I was able to join them.

 

I challenge the unknown. All writers do. We stare into the abyss of a blank page and pull something from the nothingness. Entrepreneurs (of which I am also a proud member) challenge the unknown every damn day. They take that first step, and the next one, and however many more it takes to build a business from what began as an idea, a dream, a passion.

 

That is what I love about both writing and entrepreneurship. Dreaming. Questioning. Thinking. Creating. They keep me near that edge that Vonnegut talked about…and I still really like what I see. Every damn day.

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THE CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN

If I was a super hero, I wouldn’t be one. I’d be

The Challengers of the Unknown!

 

They’re not super – even though they hang out in purple jumpsuits with white gloves.

White Gloves. What’s up with that? Not very practical. Probably had to wash them every damn day, for crying out loud.

 

They’re not super. We’re not talking Superman or Spiderman or Jonn Jonzz, The Manhunter from Mars.

 

We’re talking guys like you. Guys like me. Well, close anyway. They get dirty saving the world. I guess that’s actually why the white gloves bother me. They get dirty. And even apart from the dirt factor, I don’t think I’d ever wear white gloves for anything.

 

Too formal.

 

Ace (the decorated pilot). Rocky (the world-champion wrestler). Red (the mountaineer/daredevil). Prof (the scientific genius/skin diver) These guys are like every thing a kid ever wanted to be. Except maybe a cowboy.

 

                                              But that wouldn’t work.

 

See they’re on this plane. Don’t know each other, never met. The plane crashes. They survive. They cheat death (big skeleton guy with a wicked sickle standing menacingly above the wreckage of the plane as my boys emerge, you know, “unscathed”).

 

Now they’re…

 

Living On Borrowed Time.

 

They are The Challengers of the Unknown.

 

They get it done because they don’t. fear. death. Not because they can leap tall buildings or telepathically command all the creatures of the deep. Not because they have a magic lasso that bends men to their will.

 

They can’t fly to get away from danger. They can’t burst into flame to melt bullets. They can’t teleport. Or run faster than the speed of light.

 

They’re just…

 

Living On Borrowed Time.

 

They’re not afraid. Not of the dark or what’s in it. That kinda makes them super.

 

Super-er, actually.

 

They fight the fear, the chill, the I-can’t-do-its. They take on Multi-Man; defeat the insidious Gargoyle; discover alien artifacts and solve ancient mysteries.

 

They challenge the unknown. And they win.

 

Wow. I always wanted to do that.

 

 

FROM CREEK SONGS (and Other Seductions)

                              AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON.COM

THE BEST THING FOR BEING SAD…

Food for thought (by way of friend and mentor, Hutt Bush)

“The best thing for being sad is to learn something.  That is the only thing that never fails.  You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds.  There is only one thing for it then – to learn.  Learn why the world wags and what wags it.  That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

– T.H.White

Pick up a newspaper. Listen to five minutes (or less) of televised news. Consider our endangered environment. Just ask someone (anyone) how they’re doing today. It ain’t all roses and chuckles out there.

No shortage of advice on what to do about it either. But there are some simple ways to battle the malaise. See above.

Accompanying the learning of something? Exploration. Discovery. Challenge. Growth. Involvement. Pick one or all of these options and you’re snapping out of it already. Suggestions? Of course, I do.

Teach. Personally, I find that teaching a client how starting a blog or a newsletter can establish and differentiate them as a thought leader in this “Everybody’s an expert or at least claim to be” business arena is the height of learning — on a number of levels. It’s been said that you don’t reallyknow something until you can teach it (or explain it clearly) to someone else.

Read… while you’re on the elliptical or the treadmill or the stationary bike. And choose somethingdifferent. If you usually (or exclusively) read non-fiction, try fiction this time around. (Yes, reality purists, you can learn something from fiction.) Just do it. Just read. I’m not a snob about literacy (or the lack thereof), but encountering individuals who wear their lack of reading experience like a badge of honor truly saddens me.

Take a class.

Take a train ride to anywhere. (Well, almost anywhere. Some places really don’t need going to. Your call.)

ON THE BUSINESS END:

Audit your competition’s web site.

Take a web term or concept that you have no clue about and make it your business to define it and master it and apply it for your purposes.

Brave the opposite – go to a site or source that represents an area you don’t typically travel in, e.g. if you’re an accountant, go to a psychic network site. If you’re an artist, visit an insurance brokerage site. Mathematician? Play Scrabble online. Use Monty Python as your cue…”And Now For Something Completely Different.” Perspective can be a wondrous thing. Cultivate your  “renaissance man” instincts.

Challenge yourself to discover something. Explore something. Learn something. Appreciate the way another individual at the opposite of the spectrum speaks to their clientele, their prospective clientele and gets the word out to the world at large…and always, always, always, take away what you can use to further your entrepreneurial efforts and/or improve your life.

You’ll feel better.

TELL YOUR STORY, GROW YOUR BUSINESS

 

Creativity. Clarity. Connection. To make your business work, you’ve got to make a critical connection – with your clients, your employees, your potential end-user. You need to communicate – clearly, creatively and compellingly – the distinctive aspects and advantages of your particular product or service.

 

The Simmons Group is a marketing communications firm that specializes in crafting compelling content, brand strategies and collateral –web sites to white papers, articles to ads, media kits to media networks — that engage and impact your target audience. In short, we help you tell your story, sell your product, grow your business…and we back our efforts with the resources, skills and savvy born of more than 50 years of cumulative experience in all things creative.

DO I DARE DISTURB THE UNIVERSE?

 

“There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces  that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And  time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and  revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

Some of you will recognize this as an excerpt from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. Some of you won’t — and that’s OK…really. No poetry snob, me.

I simply wanted to throw it out there as a kind of end-of-the-year conversation spark…because we all find ourselves at one time or another — frequently at year’s end — questioning whether or not we’re running out of time. Seems there’s never enough of it. And if you’re a late bloomer to this dream actualization thing like I am — having phoned in more years than I’d care to admit to while immersed in what I whimsically refer to as a corporate coma — you might frequently pose the question “Do I have enough time to pull it off?”

In a short span of time, I’ve started my own business; seen it succeed; made it grow; written a book (and almost completed another); opened up more doors to my talents and potential than I ever thought possible. But I can never shake the notion that I’m still catching up…that I’m doing now what I should have done decades ago…that I’m never going to have as much time as I need to dare and develop all those things dreamed of in my newly enlightened state.

Sound like someone you might know?

It’s been a difficult, trying, challenging  year for all of us. A dream squasher of a year in many respects, and many of us are questioning ourselves and doubting ourselves and thinking maybe it’s best that we back off a little and hold on to what we’ve got. Can’t argue with counting your blessings. But that doesn’t mean you ignore the options and opportunities and new dreams available out there, either.

“Do I dare disturb the universe?”

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

The answer is yes. Disturb the universe. Remember how you got here and make a promise to move forward. Dare to keep challenging and questioning and achieving. There’s time for it all.

ONE PERCENT. LESS THAN ONE PERCENT, ACTUALLY.

 That’s what separates us genetically from a creature that is as happy in the trees as he is on land, whose upper body strength is more than five times that of a man, and whose powerful jaws could take your hand off with a single bite. A creature that came before us and still shares our world. A creature we traditionally relegate to circus tents, jungle movies, zoos, and, yes, “research” labs.

The creature that is the titular subject of the novel Mr. Coleman by Scot A. Simmons – a chimpanzee.