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Go Above Your Nerve

If your Nerve, deny you—

Go above your Nerve”

– Emily Dickinson

How the hell did I go all these years without reading that Dickinson poem? Too much time not reading poetry, I’d say. And not casting the net farther. That’s on me, but I’m catching up. Learning is a lifetime sport, and I woke up this morning still very much alive.

I first felt the whispers of Dickinson when I coached at Amherst College. She lived in Amherst, appropriately there’s a Dickinson museum there, and a thriving community of scholars too. The Amherst air is full of her whispers. But I wasn’t ready to hear them, and left after a year following other voices.

Perhaps if I’d read this poem before I left I may have listened more. I heard other voices then. The call of other places made it hard to hear. A shame it took so long really, but I’m catching up now. Emily was patiently waiting, and she whispers to me now:

“If your Nerve, deny you—

Go above your Nerve

He can lean against the Grave,

if he fail to swerve”

Do you hear her whisper? Get on with it already. What are you afraid of?

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  1. There are a many more words between those lines. Why focus on streaks (ref later post) when you could be breaking them? What’s wrong with doing something different every day? Why beat yourself up for losing your streak? As Miss Frizzle says: “Take chances; make mistakes”. You may be pleased at what it gets you.

  2. Nothing wrong with doing something different every day, but also nothing wrong with doing some positive things that work for you every day either. Reinforcing positive behavior by keeping a streak alive seems to me to be a good thing to track. And every day that you do it extends the streak further, and builds more momentum towards whatever you’re growing towards.

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