Storytelling at Work
December 02, 2021
The Cornstalks Are Too Small

Mitch Ditkoff head shot 2.png

When I was 21, a Senior in college, I had my first psychedelic experience. My "guide" for the day was my good friend, George, a philosophy major deeply immersed in the study of Nietzche and "alternate realities".

Knowing this was my "first time," George kindly volunteered to look out for me that memorable day -- to "be there" for me if I needed any help or support. Plus, he had a car and some time, so could drive me to a cornfield ten miles outside of town where I would be free from the prying eyes of others to have whatever experiences were in store for me.

The day, as you might imagine, was very off-the-grid, me having several mind-blowing realizations about the nature of life, God, the universe, gnats, and what I had previously come to know as my "self".

Anyway, towards the end of the day, I had a moment that taught me the true meaning of friendship and how important it is to have a friend.

As the sun went down and I realized it was the perfect time to exit that cosmic corn field, I began walking back to the car, the place where George was patiently waiting for me. As I made my way, I found myself, progressively, as if I was following some kind of universal algorithm, walking slower and slower until I came to a complete stop. That was it. I just stopped. There was no way, in the world, I could take another step. I just stood there, motionless, frozen.

Somehow, I had gotten it into my head that the SPEED of my walking was irreversibly connected to the SIZE of the cornstalks and since the cornstalks were getting smaller and smaller towards the edge of the field, so did the length of the steps I was taking until I stopped walking altogether. I just stood there, unable to proceed, cosmically certain that whatever it was that had stopped my forward movement was an indisputable message from the beyond to stop moving.

I was stuck.

It was at that precise moment that George, patiently waiting by his car beyond the edge of the cornfield, called out to me.

"Ditty, come on, let's go!"

"I can't!" I replied.

"Why not?" George responded.


That's when George jumped down from the hood of his car, walked into the cornfield, took my hand, and gave me a tug.

"Come on, Ditty, let's go!"

That's when my trance broke. That's when the conclusion I had conjured up -- that it was impossible to go anywhere because the cornstalks were too small -- completely fell away. That's all I needed to get on with my life -- just having someone not buy into my oddball reality, make their way towards me, and take my hand.

George's simple gesture -- his perfect reading of the moment -- his commitment to my well-being -- snapped me out of my bogus belief that kept me frozen in place -- the story I believed with every fiber of my being, but one that was, shall we say, highly questionable.

It was at that moment that I understood the value and the meaning of a FRIEND -- someone with the presence of mind to see through the fable I had invented, approach me, take my hand and tug.

Who of us doesn't get stuck, sometimes, in this grand adventure of life? Who of us doesn't fall prey to bogus beliefs, conclusions, and made up stories? Who of us doesn't fabricate "realities" that are not only strangely subjective, but are not, at all, in our best interest? And so, enter stage left, a friend. That's what friends do. They cross the chasm. They reach across the "divide", lovingly take our hand, and help us wake up from our trance.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: What friend of yours could use a hand these days -- perhaps someone who is a bit stuck in the cornfield of their life?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at December 2, 2021 08:09 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?


Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.