Altitude Sickness

Breathing deeply and evenly, we edge upward to the summit. At the very peak, we find an end.  Exhausted, elated, we feel more body than mind. 

Lead like a shamanic mountain goat?
Our bodies take us wherever they decide to, and often neglect to ask us for permission. For reasons best known to my body (and it won’t tell me) I find it sitting, cross-legged like a shaman, on a hotel bed that is 2 kilometres above sea-level.

I am listening to Porter Robinson (thank you @MooreLynne1) – a plangent, sometimes euphoric brand of electronica that, combined with a cup of coca leaf tea, has settled my stomach, leaving me with a helium-filled chest and a curious sense of possibility.

I’m dizzy and contemplating leadership.

Not that leadership is an immediate or looked-for prospect. But something about my current heady loftiness; the sky, the crisp, too-potent air (the coca leaf tea?) has me imagining what it might be like to take responsibility and turn it to purpose.

What would I do if I were any kind of leader? What would motivate me to seek out leadership? Could I cope up there? Not simply cope, could I thrive? Not simply thrive, could I hold those around me together in a shared, fleeting, glowing something?

What do I mean by shared, fleeting and glowing? Well…

Life is a common good, best enjoyed in the company, if not in the arms of others (hugging is central to my being – I can’t be doing without hugging).

The fleetingness of life pulls me up short most days (perhaps that explains the hugging). Time is finite, precious, not to be squandered.  Lord, guard me against the wasteful crunching of data. Lead me not into progression-mapping. Take not my eyes from my peers and my children. Time spent looking at a spreadsheet is time not spent looking at a child or their work. I don’t have time that is not for other people in the most direct way possible.

Oh, the glowingness of life (the current Porter Robinson song is particularly affecting). Try this: find a loved one and bring your face so close to theirs that you see their two eyes meld into one – like the eye of a most-cherished cyclops. The eye might be neither window to the soul nor proof of the intricate majesty of God, but it is part and parcel of the glowingness of life: to regard and be regarded, to feel that one has met and knows another’s mind through those eyes. (Another hug is in order.)

I know that leadership is a practical, pragmatic beast. Leadership is action and not simply reflection. But, for me, it is also about holding others and doing so with warmth and love.

Leadership is shamanic. It opens minds, hearts (and third-eyes) to new vistas of possibility.  Leadership is mortal and forgiving. It finds grace in imperfections and knows we share only this time together.

The air is fine up here and my lungs pull at it hungrily. Perhaps I’m a little too sensitive and sickly for leadership; a little too prone to following my body through life, amazed by it.

But, just maybe, that would make for a strange and good kind of leadership.

My body’s getting up now. Let’s follow it and find out.


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