To be completely honest, I wasn’t in the best mental or emotional state when I got there. I was worried, anxious, wracked with doubt, sad, and just a little bit lonely. I had to suck all that up make myself out to be a brave, stalwart warrior who was capable of anyting if I wanted to get anything from Odin, Allfather and great god of wisdom, war, and poetry.
I stood up on the toppled tree that we sat on together – my entire body barely rising above the shoulders that lounged carelessly against Gungnir, the great spear that never misses. I cleared my throat and began my obviously bloated adventure.
I spoke of the harsh conditions I had to endure (slippery rocks) and of the many wild (wet) beasts (dogs) that I had to tame (pet) along the way. I recalled my encounter with a crafty demon that I had to outsmart (an old man that wouldn’t shut up about rocks who I had to politely break away from). I told him about how I scaled a near-vertical cliff to make an offering (at least that part wasn’t exaggerated) and the long, “dangerous” hike I underwent, listening to a calling from deep within my soul to locate the spot where the great god of wisdom could be found.
When I was done lying to the deity, he let a long pause hang in the air before sighing and told me, “Not bad, but you need to work on your pacing.”
We chuckled together for a moment and then he asked me what I wanted.
A few weeks prior I had conceived of and created a new project, The Centurion Commission. It would go through a few minor changes between its original concept and now, but essentially, it’s a men’s networking, mentorship, and support group for leaders, presented by Hero’s Breath. I had decided to launch it on Christmas, just so that I would always remember its anniversary, and because I’m not a fan of starting anything on New Year’s Day. But with a day to go before the launch, I was wracked with doubt and insecurity. Part of me even wanted to pull the plug on the project before it begun; not that I would, but that’s how anxious I was feeling. I knew that I was moving toward a new identity – from that of being, “Matt, the Guy in Recovery Who Tries and Always Scrapes By” to being, “Matthew, the Leader Who Gets Stuff Done”. I didn’t feel like that guy, and I couldn’t connect with him. I didn’t feel like I had accomplished very much in my life and that, as determined to be successful as I am, I wasn’t sure I had the moral authority to speak about such success.
I laid this out to Odin, and then I asked him how he managed to handle his kingdom so well. He responded with a burst of deep, raucous laughter that seemed to echo throughout the harbor. Then he invited me to join him for a walk.
“What makes you think I know anything about success or leadership?” he asked as we strolled along the rolling hills of the preserve.
“You’re kidding, right?” I replied, puzzled, “You’re Odin Allfather, god of wisdom, and of triumph…”
He cut me off, “No, I’m the god of the triumphant dead. It’s best not to miss that.”
“Okay…but still. You’re the king of the Aesir. You’re a true leader. Me, I’m just a stubborn bastard that won’t quit; a perpetual failure that…”
He cut me off again, this time with a backhand that sent me flying onto my ass and rolling down a short hill. The next thing I knew I had a very angry Geri, Freki, and Gungnir pointed right in my face, with an even angrier Odin at the other end.
“Hear me and hear me well, Friend! You are NEVER to speak of yourself in those terms, EVER again! I do not waste my time with low-positioned trash, yet here I am, in your presence, and you in mine. Therefore, YOU will not use your words to manifest yourself into such filth! You WILL manifest in your life ONLY power, or I will make you regret ever summoning me. Do you understand?”
At that moment I heard a low rumble echo across the harbor, and I wasn’t sure if it came from my mind, the approaching storm, a distant piece of machinery, or if I really was trapped on a lonely strip of land with an ancient deity that I had just pissed off.
“I’m sorry, Allfather. Forgive me, I won’t do it again. Please, understand I just meant that my greatest accomplishment up until now is simply being better than the weak, angry, drunk, socialist shit that I was. I’m not sure that simply not being a loser is really enough. I’m not sure that I am enough.”
“Really?” he asked with a raised eyebrow, “Is that really your greatest accomplishment?”
“Well, no, my greatest accomplishment is…my daughter.” I said, as a heavy realization washed over me.
“Yeah,” Odin replied, pulling his spear out of my face, “our kids sure do give us something to be proud of, don’t they?”
Odin turned and walked up the trail with his wolves trotting behind. I leapt to my feet and quickly checked for ticks before rushing after him.
“But that’s just it,” I continued, struggling a bit to keep pace with his massive stride, “everything I do is for her, but now I look around me and…”
“And you see it all falling apart before you can even get it started.”
“Yeah…that’s exactly it.”
“Tell me, what happens if you’re not as successful as you envision yourself becoming?”
I paused to shudder at the thought, “Then my daughter grows up at the bottom of a dystopian nightmare. Crammed into a grey cell with other human cattle, poisoned to within an inch of her life, spending every dollar on the barest of sustenance with only scant, somewhat pleasant memories to torture herself with.”
“And if you achieve what you aim to achieve?”
“Then I buy her out of it. I build wealth now, while it’s still possible to do so, to make sure that I have something to leave her that keeps her out of the walking mass grave the world is turning into. That’s what I’m really working for. That’s what really scares me, which of course just makes it harder for me to do anything right. It makes me desperate and people can smell it a mile away. No one cares about my purpose because they sense my desperation and figure that I’m out to rip them off to suit my own ends. The fear I feel taints everything I do, so how can I be sure that it won’t destroy THIS new project too?”
The breeze over the preserve wasn’t enough to move the heavy air that sat around us. The wolves yawned to try to relieve the tension. Odin released a long sigh.
He then bent forward to rest his hand on my shoulder and look me in the eye before he said simply, “Fuck fear.”