Mount Fuji Fools

Mount Fuji Fools
Michael Gollin
October 2014

I climbed Fuji-san by full moon one night in August 1981. I had left Zurich and was on the way to Boston for law school, the wrong way around via the Trans Siberian Express across the Soviet Union, and ferry to Japan.  I  visited a Swiss biology researcher I knew from Zurich, in the vicinity of Mt. Fuji, and he told me how to do it.

I was dropped off in the evening by a bus up to the base. I bought a climbing stick, a collapsible water bottle, and a flashlight.  I climbed through the night.  There are rest stations along the way with small fire places and they sell tea and give your stick a brand. Many people were climbing up the switchbacks.

I reached the top in time for more tea while watching  the sunrise. It was glorious. It seemed like I could see all of Japan.

I was giddy with sleep deprivation. I found some people I met while traveling and we crashed down the rocky trail to the bottom in about an hour.

Japanese say there are two kinds of fools: those who never saw the sun rise from Mt. Fuji and those who saw it more than once. I am happy not to be such a fool.


Never Give Up

Never give up
Michael Gollin
September 2014

My partner Justin Pierce is a great intellectual property lawyer. Before that he was an Army Ranger and Captain. We were talking shop in my office recently when I choked on my energy drink, consuming it too fast. Despite my coughs and gags he remained calm though attentive. I gave the one finger ‘wait’ signal and he did while my aide Ginah came in and helped.

As I was pulling myself together, I wrote on my phone that having ALS is sort of like being in the military. He pointed to the gift coffee cup on my desk that says “Never never never give up,” quoting Churchill.

Justin said he was remembering being tear gassed in basic training.  It was a surprise after a long hot humid run in Georgia. People coughed, vomited, fell down, passed out. The drill sergeant told them to get up and get moving, drink water, pour it on themselves, and never give up. So they did get up and started running again, and the sergeant was right, that got the tear gas out of their systems.

It was a perfect story, and as I caught my breath and cleared my throat, we turned back to talking shop — the day’s IP conference upstairs, his clients, our colleagues.   Back to normal.

There are many forces in life that make us want to give up. Sometimes it seems impossible to continue. But then there are also good people who give us the strength to get up and keep going.  And once you are moving again, everything is possible.