Wilderness Man Survives Again

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Delray Beach, Florida.- After a frenetic week with the extended family in Nicaragua, I was in need of rest. The last thing I wanted to do when we arrived at Miami Airport last Saturday was to jump on another plane and fly down to Brazil. But I’d made a promise to a friend and partner. I’d committed to spend some days in Sao Paulo speaking at a conference on wealth building and meeting with the marketing and copywriting teams of our three publishing businesses down there.

I mused about calling in sick. I had a runny nose, so it wouldn’t have been a total lie. And also, let’s be honest… did they really need me? My Brazilian fan base (if you want to call it a fan base) had shrunk considerably since they stopped carrying my essays. The audience I’d be speaking to was less than 300 people. More to the truth of it, I hate giving speeches. And as for those meetings with all those young talents, what could I possibly tell them that they didn’t already know? They’d read my books. They’d seen my lectures. I’d be just another old guy telling them old stories about old ideas.

I walked K out of the airport to the car service lot where Lou was waiting for her. She was talking about what she’d be doing when she got home. I was thinking (for the zillionth time): “Why don’t I just quit? Why am I still working?”

As I put her luggage into the trunk, I imagined myself climbing in there with it. What if I disappeared? Just disappeared. I could hightail it to my writing studio above the garage and hang out there for a few months until I could come up with a story to account for my absence.

Walking back into the airport, I did what I always do at this stage of my before-the-business-trip blues. I imagined myself a pioneer in the wilderness. An 18th century family man in Appalachia or the Rockies, setting out from my little log cabin in a blizzard, rifle in hand, to hunt for the meat and pelts that would keep my family alive.

“It’s too dangerous now,” imaginary K warns me. “Wait for a calm in the storm.”

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do,” I reply. Then I kiss her on the forehead, pull down my coonskin cap, and march out the door.

The “hunt” in Sao Paulo was, as always, less brutal and less perilous than I had feared. The first night was easier than marching through the howling snow. It was more like watching a good documentary while sipping Chenin Blanc in the business class cabin of American Airlines flight 993. And giving my speech was less like tracking elk than excitedly explaining to lots of friendly faces my latest ideas about building wealth safely in today’s markets.

And the half-dozen meetings to which I’d have nothing to bring? They turned out rather well, actually. All those young, smart folks — they paid attention. There were nods and even smiles. And there were questions. Lots of questions that I could answer with confidence.

Then, in between, there were several really good meals with several really interesting people, two great lessons and three rolls with world-famous Jiu Jitsu champions, visits to two of Sao Paulo’s great art museums, and a VIP tour of the municipal theater. (One of the most beautiful opera houses I’ve ever seen.)

Lou dropped me off at home this morning at 5:30. It’s 6:30 now, and I’m sitting in the kitchen, writing this. Looking up through the east window, I see a thousand little clouds, dark violet in the darkness, spread out along the horizon above the ocean. It is dawning, and it’s a quick dawn. And as the minutes pass, little dark shapes are lit up from beneath in a luminous orange as the sky lightens from gray to streaks of purple and pink and blue.

My next trek into the wilderness is more than a month away.