Burn the City to the Ground and Rebuild

July 31, 2014 By Tom

Seriously, what is it that set you on the course of life you’re currently on?

Look around, are you doing what you want to be doing with your passion?  Are you pursuing the dreams you feel are most important?  Are you pursuing your dreams at all?

I was sitting here this morning working on some writing related to logistics for what I see the book becoming and the speaking based around it.  And I kept coming back to this very basic question, “what makes me who I am today versus who I was a year ago?”

climbing the Pitons

It goes without saying that my vision from a year ago doesn’t anywhere resemble the vision I have today.  A year ago, I was standing on the beach in St. Lucia and thought I had life all figured out.  There I was, 26 years old, and I had survived the darkest hours you can imagine and was on top of the world…or at least on top of the Piton Mountains found on the island.  I had equal partners at my organization that I envisioned building something great with.  I had a marriage that had started in a hospital and that had overcome loss and agony.  I had a beautiful home and lots of toys and material possessions.  I was inching towards having a family and following the next steps and path of life that I thought I wanted.  I fucking had it made, I was living the vision of what I wanted.

A year later, I stand on the wreckage of many of those visions.  There are burning embers of a marriage, of a very sad split and spin-off of partners from the non-profit and lots of other changes I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams or worst nightmares.

When I think of that, when I look back, I find myself so disconnected from that era these days.  I find myself thinking of the Great Chicago Fire that devastated my most favorite city in America and what came as the fires died out on October 10, 1871.  One of the most majestic cities was rebuilt, the ruins and rubble and smoldering ashes were piled into Lake Michigan, ultimately creating the land that now supports Lake Shore Drive and many other things east of Michigan Avenue that make Chicago the modern day beauty we know it as.  I realize now that as people saw Chicago transform from ashes to the new greatness, nobody ever wished for what it was before.

a favorite vantage point of the rebuilt Chicago

Today I step back and look towards the sky at the new things I’ve built in my life in the last 12 months; I have a wonderful partner-in-crime that keeps me in check and I laugh that I stumbled across her at a totally random time of my life.  My organization is now my organization without excess holding us back and an unbelievable growth in 2014.  I know who I am better than ever before.  I’ve always been a survivor of the dark hours, but I’m not sure I ever realized what a fighter I was to not only overcome the past but to seriously kick its ass.

I feel fortunate now to understand that the fire always has a purpose, and it’s so you can build something greater.  To all those that helped set my world ablaze a year ago–thank you, you did me a service and showed me what true lack of loyalty and honesty really is…and allowed me to jettison the baggage that was holding me back.  You all were made for one another and the ashes of our pasts are the foundation for my growing future.

To the stars and back, I feel pretty damn good these days and what the future holds for me.


Burn Baby, Burn,