22d. Pre-cacoon: Traveling in Packs

Photo by Tererapun @ freedigitalphotos.net

Gangs are a part of human survival — our form of pack living that lets us hunt together and defend together.  There are gangs in every aspect of human life – groups, teams, congregations… cliques… it can be both beneficial and ugly, but always present in some form or another.

So it is no wonder that Freddy was part of a gang growing up in Lebanon, where surviving meant more than just getting by, but living another day.

It was a lawless land, it still is in many ways.  If someone died, he was a casualty of war.  If someone disappeared, he was gone forever.  No investigations, no interrogations, no consequences.  In a civil war, the kid down the block was just as dangerous as the sniper on the roof, so traveling in packs was most definitely a key to survival.

And Fred with his big personality thrived in the gang mentality.  He took charge, he made things happen, he kept people entertained… a natural leader.  Sure he got into scuffles with the gang across the street, but he had people to back him up.  He oozed confidence, even as he was being kicked in the stomach, because he knew he would shoot right back up with a punch to the jaw… and then they caught him alone…

I was always alone.  I shied away from gangs, cliques, groups… I stayed by myself and never had the opportunity to build the confidence that is nurtured when you belong to a group.  I was not a follower either… I strayed from the herd and did my own thing, not wanting to follow, but not wanting to lead.  It surprises many who know me professionally that I could ever be timid.  Now I tend always to naturally take the lead of projects or meetings.  But back then, I enjoyed living in the shadows of the walls… unheard, unbothered, uncared for…  I was always the nice one, the sweet one, the trustworthy one… But entirely forgettable… even through my college years I barely made a ripple.

What changed me?  He did…


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