Skating Toward

Submitted by Paul Born on January 9, 2014 - 1:15pm
A New Year Reflection from a Pessimist - Feeling Optimistic

Skating together (as submitted to Al Etmanski's blog)

When the ice is good it is easier to skate than to walk. Similarly when relationships are positive it is always better to walk with others.

I have this growing sense that things are going to get a lot worse. This comes from a guy whose wife introduces him as the eternal optimist, always seeing the cup overflowing (though she quickly adds this gets annoying some days). So why does this optimist think things are going to get a lot worse? The systems we have come to rely on no longer serve us well, they are broken. The environment is a mess, the economy is unstable to the point of being wonky, and people are angry and scared all over the place and rising up against both justice (conservative and fundamentalist movements) and injustice.

I used to think “these troubles” have always been with us and was certain we would get through them. I still believe we will get through them, however, things are going to get worse before they get better and no amount of innovation or brilliance will save us from the pain that the getting worse is going to cause.

So what are the things this pessimistic-feeling optimist is going to skate toward in the next year?

One: I am going to look for a neighborhood where people know each other and are doing things together: demonstrating caring and co-reliance. I am going to help this neighborhood be more than they already are by inspiring a project they can work on together that will help someone other than themselves. I want to experience collective altruism with them. I may even move there.

Two: I am going to help cities realize that by ending poverty they are promoting security. Less poverty means less reason for jails and hospitals.

Three: I am going to walk with those who desire new forms of leadership. I want to visit places that embrace leaderfulness. Places where lots of leadership can co-exist and where people are learning to walk together and pull in the same direction.

Four: I am going to party more, laugh harder, reach out to those who are lonely and embrace (hug) the goodness all around me because I believe that when times get bad you practice the good stuff a lot, with gusto.

And finally: I am going to slow down so I can see the good ice and then I am going skate there often. I am going to slow down so I can meet good people, build relationships and walk and talk and listen.

Read what others are skating towards this year at 





Digging deeper into new forms of leadership

Hi Paul, I love your skating metaphor and the five things you are skating toward.  Particualrly the having fun together peice, I want to incorporate more of that in my life too.  I was wondering if you could explain a bit more what you mean by new forms of leadership.  What counts as a new form of leadership and where do we see examples?


Come visit us in Oak Park, Ontario we have an outdoor skating pond that is a water retention facility so skating is not allowed- but that doesn't stop the hundreds of families who clear the ice & set up goals each winter! Not much skating so far this year though. I have to say that I do occassionally feel overwhelmed and also a frustration with swimming upstream against the flow constantly- or for this post skating against the crowd? but when I am at my most frustrated something amazing happens that gives me faith in the strength of community. 

Bucking the system

This is awesome Michelle, I love it when communities ignore the rules that stand in the way of them coming together and playing.  Guerrilla community, it is awesome.  I will definitely bring my skates the next time I am in your area.

Very Nice Michelle - Good Ice

Very nice Michelle. Good ice and the time to enjoy it.


Sounds like a great agenda. Come down to San Miguel and kill 5 birds with one stone!!(LOL)

For sure

You are starting to entice me with your blogs. The more I learn about this great place the more I like it. Thanks for your great stories.