One of my favorite films of all time is “Finding Nemo.” Thanks to having two little gingers in the house, we get to watch it…a lot. The more I see it, the more I realize that I share more similarities than I would like to admit with Nemo’s daddy, Marlin. He’s cautious, overprotective, analytical, and believes in doing most things himself. Not a very trusting soul, that Marlin. I’d be lying if I said I don’t relate.
When it came time to get everything set up for the Half Fund, our very small brain trust came up with all of it. Our first event was planned by a total of six people. My partner Joe Farmer, our lawyer and I put together the very idea of how the fund would work. Even our first website was basically designed by just three people. We were, and are, so close to everything.
During a weekend in January of 2012, I had the great fortune of meeting Wayne Elsey, the founder of Soles4Souls, one of the most successful charitable organizations in history. He took a real interest into what we were trying to accomplish with the Half Fund. So my partner Joe Farmer and I went down to Orlando, Florida, where Wayne hosted us for the day. Wayne said he absolutely loved our idea, but we had one major flaw: we didn’t look nearly as good as we sounded. To paraphrase: “You have a fantastic idea, but your look and feel is not ready for prime time. It needs some work, and I think I can help you.”
At the height of Marlin’s despair, in the midst of a desperate effort to find his son, he is hanging from the back of the whale’s tongue, thinking he’s going to be eaten, knowing he will never see Nemo again. At the moment when all hope seems lost, his friend Dory said the simplest thing: “Let go.”
They are two simple, short, easy words to say. They are two simple, short, incredibly hard words to live. It is only when Marlin finally lets go that his metamorphosis is complete. For the first time in the story, you actually see him happy, excited, laughing, thankful, and speaking whale.
Wow. I wish I could speak whale.
Wayne asked us to “let go.” Our logo, our website, our “elevator pitch” on what the Half Fund is about, had to change, and we had to get away from it and let his people do their magic. The whole process would be entirely taken out of our hands. I was terrified… until I let go. When I did, I felt giddy, confident, and thrilled to show everyone what we are all about, knowing that we have an amazing message and an amazing idea on how to spread cancer education to the world.
And then, all at once it hit me: this was the second time in my life that I really had to let go. The first time was when I battled testicular cancer. When you are diagnosed, you fight like hell to regain any semblance of normalcy in the most abnormal of situations. You hang on, dig in, fight like hell to maintain control.
And I failed. Everyone fails. And that’s a good thing. The moment you are able to “let go” is the moment when the heart really starts to help heal the body. It’s the time when you permit yourself to laugh again. It’s a time when you stop beating yourself up over being a jerk to those who only want to love you and take care of you. After all, a little love goes a long way, and a little too much love goes way too far.
So right where you are this second, reading this, on this website, you are seeing the fruits of our labor of what I learned during cancer, and what I should have been living all along. All I ask is that when the time comes, don’t be afraid to let go. It may be scary, but it almost always works. And no matter what, remember this: it is not a weakness to let go. In fact, it’s the hardest thing you can do.
It’s even harder than speaking whale.
– Dan Duffy
Co-founder, The Half Fund