• Mel Butcher

Seth and Tortoise

A couple years ago, I got to interview an author whom I greatly respect. He video recorded the interview to share as a private Vimeo with me later; I recorded audio-only on my end.


At the very end, I thanked him for his time, and then I asked, "Is there anything I could have done to better prepare for this interview?"


He said, "I'm going to turn off the recording now." He didn't know I was still recording audio, and I feel bad about that; but as a podcaster, I try to always have a backup going...


Anyhow, he turned off the video recording and proceeded to tell me some of the kindest things anyone has ever said. In our short time together, he gave me the gift of seeing me. I know now that it's one of the best gifts any person ever could give.


Put a pin here, we'll come back to this.


The author also invited me into a workshop he started a while ago (based on one of his many books). This particular session had already started and I was late, but he added me anyway to give it a go.


Let me tell you, I struggled. I couldn't finish all the lessons and I struggled with every lesson I could do. I just felt like I couldn't figure *it out. I felt, and still feel, deep disappointment in myself.


A while later, the pandemic hit. I was anticipating being in the virtual environment for a while, so I decided to take another one of the courses, but a different one this time.


It's called The Bootstrappers Workshop.


So it was the beginning of the pandemic, and I feel some kind of new determination in this one since the last one, the one I got invited into, went poorly. I felt like I needed to make up for it.


In this workshop, I somehow quickly found someone I resonated with, a man named Robert.


Robert and I decided to form a group. The idea was that we'd simply support each other through the workshop. We started inviting other people we saw inside the workshop that we thought were cool and interesting and thoughtful and we began meeting weekly.


Then, the workshop ended.


And we kept on meeting.


We kept on meeting and I think we all found different types of support in our remote cohort.


There are two things that happened around vaguely the same time.


On one of our weekly calls, Sam asked me, "Why do you like the City of Madison, so much?"


I thought about it and started rattling off things- the many bike paths, the community activities, the restaurants, the biking, the little free libraries, the parks, the trees, proximity to lakes, the dog parks, the biking...


And someone suggested, why don't we do a retreat in Madison?


So, we planned it.


Now on another call, somehow we got to talking about how we all got to be here together and I realized I hadn't actually shared the story of me interviewing the author, botching my first TMS go, and therefore signing up for Bootstrappers.


As you might have guessed, this author is sort of a big deal to them, too. Once this came up, they naturally wanted to listen, so I shared it over our call.


Remember the pin from earlier? After hearing the interview, my friends suggested I turn the end - the very nice things said - into a ringtone or an alarm.


So, I did.


My friends, my Bootstrappers cohort (our group was named Tortoise in the workshop ) that could visit, came to Madison just recently. This is bittersweet because none of our international group members could make the trip since the borders were closed.


I never expected to find this much support and connection in the virtual world. I never expected to care about humans so far away that I met so serendipitously.


And from my perspective, all of this happened because someone important was willing to share time to see me.


Now, every day, since that discussion with Tortoise, the voice of someone whom I look up to a great deal is piped through my phone speakers saying, "You're extraordinary..."


Thanks, Seth. None of this would have happened without you.





And to Tortoise, including those not in our photo, I love you so so much. Thank you for being awesome and giving to the world generously through your work.

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