“Each of us is profoundly, even fundamentally mediocre … so it’s only by asking ourselves to do what we actually cannot yet do that we step up to take on the critical challenges.”
- Cheryl Strayed
Maybe the reason so few of us walk on water is simply because we don’t try.
I once suggested that to a group of friends. I asked if anyone wanted to go for a stroll on the lake. There were no takers. One of my friends did offer to hold the phones and the wallets. It’s good to know good people.
The other day my editor sent me a piece titled Writing What’s Maybe Almost Halfway Brave. The author had just returned from hearing Cheryl Strayed teach writers how to tolerate the stench of their own writing.
“For the ambitious novelist it is always this: you simply cannot write the book you’re writing because it is objectively too hard for you. It’s too long, for one thing, and its psychic weight’s too great. Techniques will be required and you’ve mastered none of them.
You can’t write this book because you don’t know how and you cannot, in fact, know how because this book of yours — if original — has never before been written, not by you, not by anyone.”
I’m convinced that a good life has the same elements as that of a good book (thanks to Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years). So, please allow me to translate the above statement so that it applies to everyone who really wants to live.
For the ambitious liver of life it is always this: you simply cannot live the life you desire because it is objectively too hard for you … Techniques will be required and you’ve mastered none of them. You can’t truly live because you don’t know how and you cannot, in fact, know how because this life of yours — if original — has never before been lived, not by you, not by anyone.
So, what to do? Hold the phones and the wallets?
Frak that! ; ) Start living the impossible. That’s how you will master the techniques that are required to live.
“It is in setting out to do the impossible thing that we will accustom ourselves to failure, feel every scrape, bruise, blister, all the aches and strains in every joint and muscle and tendon, pain borne of huge ambition. And so we remain ambitious even as we’re disheartened, all the while learning to tolerate the reeking stench of our own not-great writing.”
I will remain ambitious and disheartened as I write a stinky life worth living!
It is with this spirit that I squeaked out of high school and faced heartbreak. Because of this spirit I suffered back surgery, nearly lost everything in commercial real estate, battled deep depression, ended up in therapy on meds and struggled in my marriage. It is with this spirit that I failed to be a “real Christian” and ended up being a notorious sinner and self-absorbed substance abuser… and obese.
However, it is also this spirit that made me a self-sacrificial father of three and faithful husband for 19 years.
It is with this spirit that I have earned multiple college degrees, graduated summa cum laude, experienced much of our great country, dove reefs, hiked mountains, flew in a hot air balloon, drank fine booze, smoked preemo weed, dropped acid and went jet skiing, rode rapids, made music, fed the homeless, took 25 roller coaster rides in one day with my daughter, raised money for suffering children, became a 4th degree black belt, chased down my demons, hiked in and out the Grand Canyon, sailed with my dad to the Bahamas and traveled abroad. This spirit made me a broadcaster, author, producer and V.P. of Communications.
It is with this spirit that I follow Jesus and trust him when he says I am just as much a son of God as he is despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Remaining ambitious and disheartened has made me the Merry Monk of Love!
Call all that bluster and pride. I don’t give a spit. I may not be very humble, but I know how to live.
If you’re looking for help getting your life together, I’ll be happy to help, but it will cost you. Click here for more info.
I will give you this piece of advice for free. Stop reading this and start walking!