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From The Ashes

The man plopped down on his chair, defeated.

His father's maxims bit his ears and nagged him like tired Christmas jingles.

"No pain, no gain. No guts, no glory. No risk no reward. Gotta' pay to play. You never know until you try."

On and on.

He sat, dazed, in a semi-trance, half-comatose, half numb, with tinges of remorse and disappointment punctuated by an occasional anxiety spike.

He couldn't believe Dad had been gone almost five years.

It seemed like yesterday that they would gather on the back porch to celebrate the victories, cry over the defeats and laugh about both.

Dad always delivered the perfect line, the stern encouragement, the voice of wisdom that transcended the man's annoyance over the unflappable demeanor that smiled regardless, win or lose, rain or shine, day or night.

"I'll have to face this one alone," he thought, smitten with a mix of terror and sadness.

As if he knew how.

A familiar paralysis crept over him like a slow-moving shadow, unobserved, adding darkness in tiny, imperceptible stages until it blocked all light, held him bound to his history, prisoner of his doubt.

His eyes drooped, his hands fell limp, his neck crooned forward, listless and heavy.

"YOU'RE JUST AFRAID," the voice bellowed in his head. "IT'S NOT REAL," it continued, "never is, never was. You know better."

Startled awake, the man let his suppressed smile come through.

"Yeah, Dad," he reflected, "I remember. Nothing to fear but the fear itself. Easy to say, not so easy to do-especially after having your butt handed to you on a platter-again."

Still, the grin lingered, chased out some of the cobwebs.

"Funny how fear works," the man mused, drawing on memories. "Freezes us into inaction, negates powerful lessons, shuts down our creative juice."

All these and more, he had bantered at length on the porch over ?unsweetened ice tea and fat, salted Heinz pretzels in a big brown box.

He wished he had one now.

"Failures come and go-part of life," Dad preached. "Same as triumphs. Not the failure that sets you back, son, only the fear of failure."

The man struggled to apply the notion to today, beaten once more, beaten and tired, a space where the desire to quit and pack it in held court in full regalia, so many jesters and wannabes heckling their own loserisms, taunts and jeers.

"Told you so-should have listened-bail while you still can-get a real job-nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah?"

"Only the FEAR of failure?"

Dad's mandate.

"That's all it is." The man wrestled in his mind. "I have failed many times and so what. I might succeed on the next one. Failure's not so bad, unless it traps me into never starting over."

The man looked around the room, as if to conjure the image of his father, an involuntary shudder rippling down his spine.

"I know, I know," he spoke out loud. "Sometimes it just takes me a minute."

He pushed himself erect, picked up his chin and settled his gaze on the picture on the mantelpiece.

"I know," he repeated. "I know."

That's A View From The Ridge...

About The Author

Author Ridgely Goldsborough invites you to subscribe to The Daily Column, a heart-felt collection of stories that inspire hope and courage. Please do so at

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