Laughter Fuels the Fire
It was the spring of 2016, and I was sitting in the desert near Joshua Tree as the sun was starting to set. I had been working on product development for Evelyn & Bobbie for half a year at that point. I had successfully closed our first round of funding, everything was moving forward, but it had been really hard.
This was my one moment to sit, read, and just be still.
I had big plans to time the lighting of my campfire with the desert sunset. I drank tea and watched as the sun’s orange and purple spiked, and then started to fade. It was time to light the match. But as soon as the sun began to set, a cold, hard wind lifted up off the desert floor.
Lighting this fire was going to be difficult.
Matches: forget about it. Lighter: completely ineffective. Twenty attempts, thirty. My thumb was starting to get hot. Maybe slightly blistered? Meanwhile, the wind only grew stronger, while the desert around me grew dark.
I had started out my evening with everything that I needed (or so I thought), and yet my perfect little plan had been foiled.
As a last-ditch attempt, I lit a small stick of wood, and made sure to let it burn all the way through until the flame was big and strong. Then I grabbed a coffee cup and used it as a wind shield to bring the flame to the fire.
Foiled again. The flame went right back out.
That’s when I took a step back, and allowed myself to admit how ridiculous this whole thing was. I was standing by myself in the desert, with no one but my perplexed dog as a witness. I tossed a still-glowing ember of the stick into the fire and started laughing. Really, laughing. A good belly laugh. Cracking up at how hard I was trying to force this perfect moment.
And then: POOF.
The whole pile of wood burst into flames.
The ember from the stick must have landed right in the middle, where that small flame caught. I stood in disbelief, as the wind fed the fire, and it continued to grow even larger. Every entrepreneur knows how a moment like that feels. Where you’re trying to force a perfect moment, and life just doesn’t want to cooperate. There’s always a point along the path when you find yourself alone in the desert, and you need to figure out how to start the fire because your best-laid plans just aren’t cutting it.
In the end, it’s laughter that fuels the fire. Our own humility, and our ability to keep learning from our mistakes. When we let the little moments of magic happen on their own—rather than trying to control them.
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