Have You Found Joy in an Unexpected Place?
Show us the way with your story
It was pissing rain outside
My son and I stood looking out the front window.
We love cycling together and it had already been more than a week since we’d last been out in the dingy, drenched days of pacific northwest winter. I looked at my son for any spark of motivation as I stood on top of one of the heating vents in the house. “Let’s do it,” he said defiantly, which was just the youthful leadership I needed to face the cold, the wet, and the mud.
We methodically layered ourselves with just the right gear, carefully tucking our waterproof pants into the right crevices, and cinching up all the strategic snaps, ties, and laces.
Our attempts to dress for the occasion, however, quickly made god laugh.
We weren’t more than five minutes into the ride before we were completely soaked through by the sideways rain. The absence of a few fenders for each of us, and no sports eyewear for my son, left us with little choice but to turn tail and head for home.
As we approached the garage, however, I was feeling something in addition to just being wet and cold.
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My son couldn’t see without eye protection, so he had no choice but to call it quits. With sports glasses, however, I could still somewhat visually navigate—so I told him I was going to do another loop before finishing.
We’ve all had those holy moments when we choose to meet our discomfort. I’m sure there’s a Greek or Hindu god or goddess somewhere whose spirit is summoned whenever a mortal being escapes the temptation of superficial warmth for the fire that starts in the soul when the raw elements of life are embraced.
I was growing wetter by the minute, but my legs, lungs, and enthusiasm were suddenly being fueled by the insulting weather like coal being shoveled into the furnace of a locomotive.
As I passed cars creeping along in rush hour traffic, I felt sorry for every pampered driver, imprisoned in their temperature controlled, seat-warmed chariots. And then I realized I had spent the last four days in the very same insulated state of comfort. I’d been trying repeatedly to write something useful for the week, but everything I produced had the stink of sedentary safety all over it. As I rode, I felt the stirrings of something that might be worth sharing.
Instead of marking a usual route that would loop me back home, I kept riding further into the tempest, feeling happier and lighter with each stroke of the pedals despite the sogginess of my socks.
I reached an urban trail that slices across the city, providing dedicated passage through town for pedestrians and cyclists. I glided up to a red light at one of the vehicle intersections the path crosses. Jogging in place there, also waiting for the light to change, was a runner.
I pulled to a stop and glanced sideways at the dripping, bedraggled winter warrior next to me, steam evaporating off his shoulders, the squishing sound of his waterlogged Nikes rhythmically marking the seconds as we waited for the light to change.
He looked back at me, and we both grinned from ear to ear.
Not a word needed to be exchanged, because we were both sharing the same ecstatic experience—discovering that what looked like hostile conditions, a slap in the face, was instead a kiss of life. It’s a pinnacle of human experience, to navigate alongside even one other person to the eye of a challenge and revel in the exposure to the storm.
Do you have a treasure map?
Assumptions, comfort, and fear are ancient foes for the happiness of the human species. When anyone finds their way through the labyrinth of our primal wiring and escapes into real life, it’s not only inspiring, it’s instructive. It gives the rest of us a map to follow when we find ourselves stuck in limited perspectives.
Where have you found unexpected joy in your life?
How did you find your way out of a closed mind or a cozy house to experience it?
How did it feel to discover hidden treasure that was right under your nose?
In last week’s Podium Day session a participant told us a story about listening to a small voice in her head while doing yard work that inexplicably kept nudging her to retrieve a gardening tool that she didn’t actually need for the task. Following the whisper of her subconscious mind, she stumbled on a set of missing car keys that she’d hidden in her garden shed eighteen months ago. It’s a simple, specific story about how trusting our instincts can lead us in the right direction.
Another attendee of the session shared how often an imprisoning pattern of overthinking blocks her life participation, and how saying yes on the spur of the moment to a safari trip changed her life.
Such stories are gifts to the rest of us, but when we tell them, we also remind ourselves of the wisdom of our own experience.
OUR NEXT PODIUM DAY
Saturday, Feb 10th, 9 am PST - Podium Day
This week’s storytelling prompt is finding joy in unexpected places. Come with a story to share, or just show up and listen. Participants frequently find that listening to others tell their stories sparks a valuable and useful memory for themselves. This week is open to all subscribers.
Watch me stumble through my YouTube video
Last week I announced a new project for paid members called the 52V Challenge Club, which is a friendly group of beginner-level video creators who have committed to bravely post one video a week for the next year.
I’ve been spoiled by access to live audiences, so I haven’t felt comfortable with video so far, but now’s the time for me to learn. I’m one of the participants and there’s still room for a few more members if you want to join us.
Frankly I don’t know why it wasn’t obvious sooner that creating short videos would be such an excellent vehicle for speaking practice. If you want to practice to become a better communicator, promote your content, share your expertise, professional knowledge, or build influence in your industry, this is fantastic way to do it. You can even leave your videos unlisted on YouTube for the challenge while we all share feedback about how to improve.
I spent the last week creating a new studio to film in and I’m amazed by the transformation I’ve achieved in a few days by following some simple guidance for lighting, framing, and camera use.
This is my first video for my new channel for Pivot to the Podium.
I’d love for you to subscribe to my channel. I’ll be posting regular public speaking and storytelling tips to keep you on top of your own speaking game.
Here’s what my “studio” looked like before.
And what it looks like now.
As you’ll see if you watch my video, I’m not trying to perfectly script or rehearse my delivery. I stumble and search for words, preferring to share a level of authenticity and spontaneity that I’m always encouraging speakers to find.
I’m looking forward to improving over the next year.
How about you?
You can leave a comment or just reply to this email if you’d like to jump in.
Here’s the registration link for this week’s meeting on Thursday.
Thursday Feb 8th, 11 am PST - 52V Club
We’re holding one more open session for free subscribers if you’re not already a paid member and want to check it out.
We’ll review this week’s postings, provide each other with feedback and set goals for the coming week.
Pivot to the Podium is a reader-supported publication. To receive additional support for public speaking and storytelling, new posts, and to support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
✈️ I’m heading for Dallas this week and Phoenix the week after. If you’re a resident in either city and want to connect, let me know.
⚽ A writer friend,told a story this week in his newsletter that is a masterful use of metaphor. It’s an excellent example of using a story for inspiration and education. It’s worth the read.
🍱 It was a total pleasure to get together this week with my visiting writing friendto talk about life, work, and the irreplaceable importance of taking action to find our path. The sushi was good too.