Knowing Don was retired, I asked him what he was doing with himself these days. He didn't answer immediately. Instead it seemed like he was savoring my question. Then the retired president of est said (as if he'd only just recently discovered it for himself) "Well ... I seem to be a fallow field" to which I obviously had to ask "What do you mean 'a fallow field' Don?".
A fallow field, he explained, is a field in which once, say, a crop grew. For whatever reason, the crop now no longer grows there, and the field has fallen into disuse. It may be covered in leaves. A few weeds have sprung up. It's empty, not sown with seed. It's fallow. And the notion of a fallow field (which was Don's entire thesis) is that something now new can and will grow in a fallow field. A fallow field is a field ripe with possibility. Don was looking for his next big idea ie at what seeds he could sow in that now fallow field he is, leaning back on his elbows, reclining next to me on the shag rug on the floor of his extraordinary home in front of its sheer plate glass windows, surveying out and down over the entire San Francisco bay, the two of us sipping eggnog on Christmas day, with Werner's open gift on a table nearby.
Too soon, waaay too soon, it was time to go. I said goodbye and thanked him for a most enjoyable, insightful visit, then drove back down the Tiburon peninsula to continue delivering Werner's Christmas gifts. I didn't have to wait too long before finding out what became of Don and that fallow field he said he seemed to be: next, Don founded the Supercuts Franchisee Association DBA (ie Doing Business As) Supercuts, the hugely successful franchise chain of no-appointment consistent quality hair salons across these United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Today Supercuts has over two and a half thousand salons in the USA alone. Some fallow field I would say, yes? And Don's idea of being a fallow field, unsure of what will come next, yet letting it be OK to be a fallow field transitioning between one of life's great adventures and the next, has stayed with me and served me ever since.
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