He had an idea. He felt it was very exciting because it was different and could even be important. But he didn’t know what to do about it. He didn’t talk to other people about it because he had learned that when he told them about it, they saw little in it for themselves, but a lot in it for him.
Many of them just cut him down, directly or through faint praise, explaining how they could see that it wouldn’t work even if he couldn’t. That left him feeling silly.
Even worse were the few who saw his idea and encouraged him, but they were no closer to knowing what to do about it than he was, so that left him feeling bad too. Smart enough to think up something, but not smart enough to know what to do about it, huh?
One day, by chance, he found himself in the company of another man on a journey.
After a while, this man asked him what his interests were. He was too shy to give a truthful answer, muttering abstractions and generalities that didn’t mean much. Doing otherwise always ended badly.
But on this occasion the other man seemed able to read his hesitancy and be interested in what lay behind it. He gently persisted with his question as though he desired to learn something of his travelling companion. It was almost as if he was saying: ‘This is our opportunity. The Universe is large, but will still be richer for what we can make of this time. There is nothing to fear’.
Eventually he caved in. He told his companion his idea showing the excitement he felt as he talked about it. The companion listened intently then asked some questions to make sure he had understood what he had heard. Then he commented on how important and valuable the idea was, but agreed it was hard to see what to do.
They travelled in silence for a short distance then the other said: ‘You have been thinking about this for a long time. You must have ideas about how it can be done. I’d very much like to hear, if you are willing to reveal them.’
At this he became very nervous again because the words he had to speak sounded ridiculous from such as himself, who had never moved in the circles of making such lofty things happen. But again it was as if the other man ecould read this and gently drew him out.
And as the ideas poured out of him and were met with approval rather than ridicule, his confidence grew and he spoke with greater clarity and force. His companion grew more and more impressed and started to share the sense of excitement.
They were nearing their destination. The companion said: ‘You knew all the time how to proceed and now you have laid it out. I know people who would be pleased to support you. If you would allow it, tell me your name and I will arrange for them to contact you.’
He said: “They just call me EM”.
The companion said: “Doesn’t that mean Everyman in your language? It’s funny, that’s what they call me too. Lot of us about aren’t there?”