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Providence moves, too

Open Space
Derek Franz
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe

There was frost everywhere as the sun rose last Friday – I had to wear two sweatshirts and gloves to walk the dog – but the day grew very warm by mid-afternoon, when I stopped to visit my friend Michele.

The 75-year-old French woman was soaking in the sun on her deck when I arrived. I had a surprise for her. She knew what it was before I put it in her hands.



“Ah!” she exclaimed in her undying accent, as sweet as the candle and perfume aromas in her home.

I sat across from her on a folding chair and we talked deeply about life, as we always have. I’ve known her closely for almost two years, and it is an unusual friendship, to say the least. The gift I gave Michele had to do with an accomplishment of mine, but it also had everything to do with our relationship.



The heat on the deck under the clear sky became almost unbearable as I sat in the chair. It was hard to imagine winter sneaking in under summer’s door anytime soon, or to believe that memories from the coldest season of my life were real not long ago – a little less than three years ago, to be exact.

People who read this column in January 2009 might remember some of my predicaments in those days. I was an aspiring writer who set out to see the world, believing in dreams, believing that life would provide for itself as long as I pursued my passions with passion. By the time I moved to Bozeman, Mont., in December 2008 to stay with friends and look for a job, however, I was penniless and work was nowhere in sight.

Todd and Tara left for their honeymoon to Hawaii and I settled into their townhome for the coldest, loneliest winter of my experience. Temperatures stayed below zero for two weeks, often in the negative teens. Things got desperate as my credit card filled up. I even tried selling vacuums door-to-door, but those doors slammed in my face, too.

It started to seem like I had thrown away a perfectly fine life. My self esteem was as low as my beard was long. All I had left was a lingering, faint belief that I could still make a living as a writer.

“Ha! What a fool,” responded the voice in my head. I cringed to admit the dream even to myself.

By the time I meticulously checked off every classified ad in the paper, however, I had nothing better to do than write. I wasn’t making money at anything else, and even though I had a lot to learn (still do), maybe, just maybe, if I kept writing – the only job skill I seem remotely good at – I could actually earn some money. And I did – $75. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

Those months were some of the most important of my life. Until that final hour, I didn’t fully commit to my goal.

There were some beautiful moments, too. When Todd came back from Hawaii, we went ice climbing every week in Hyalite Canyon, which has been a cradle for such legendary alpinists as Alex Lowe and Jack Tackle. I also discovered how lucky I am to have friends like Todd and Tara.

Meanwhile, I kept writing this column and picked up a job as a news reporter in November 2009. That’s about the time Michele called my office.

She had been reading my columns and felt such a connection that she had to meet me. It creeped me out a little at first, but she was obviously genuine. Since then, she has encouraged my dream and helped me grow as a person. I venture to say it’s valuable for a young man to glimpse life through the eyes of an aged woman who is not his mother and speaks bluntly in a loving manner.

One day, over a glass of wine, Michele handed me a page with the Goethe quote, used above. She made me read it out loud, and I sensed its truth even then. That’s why I had to bring her a copy of my first published fiction story – 3,000 words in “Alpinist 36,” complete with illustrations. Hyalite Canyon happens to be featured in that issue of the quarterly magazine as well.

The reason I share this with you now, dear readers, is because so many of us forget the power of, or are scared away from, commitment at the crucial moment. So, I’m sharing part of Goethe’s passage, because, as far as I’ve experienced, it is absolutely true:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitance, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, providence moves, too. … Begin it now.”

– “Open Space” appears on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Derek Franz writes for the Eagle Valley Enterprise and lives in Glenwood Springs. He can be reached at dfranz@eaglevalleyenterprise.com.


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