Choosing your Adventure
Study most classical storylines, and you will discover those stories that resonate with us, be it at the box office or in a great book; follow a storyline that sounds similar to this:
A hero desires something. On their way to getting what they want, he or she encounters a problem. At the height of his despair, he meets a guide.
The guide paints a picture of the possible outcomes of his story. There’s the way his life could turn out if he follows the advice of another, who has been down a similar road, and then there’s the way his life can turn out if the hero ignores the advice at hand.
Emboldened by the possibilities before him, the hero decides to begin the journey.
Along the way, the hero is called upon to summon the courage to conquer his deepest fears.
The hero takes flight, transforms, and in the end… has become the master of his torments; He or she has found the golden chalice.
You can talk about Luke Skywalker and you can talk about The Old Man and the sea…
The classical storyline does prevail in our culture. It’s what we’re drawn to. We all want to see how the hero overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds and prevails in the end. It’s how we’re wired and it’s how we learn. They say that you’re very powerful when you can tell a good story. What about your story? If it were turned into a movie, would you watch it?
What are the odds that are stacked against you, and how do you plan to overcome them?
We all have an adventure that we can and perhaps should be living. What is yours?
I remember the day I walked past a mirror. I had just returned from a grueling day with divorce arbitrators, fighting for my very existence and the right to see my 3 little children.
I looked at someone I hardly recognized. I was fat. – about 20Kg’s overweight. My face was puffy and my eyes were just dead. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and I wasn’t sure if this guy in the reflection had the guts to turn this sinking ship around. There were little children to look after and stand tall for.
I remember looking at myself with a mixture of pity and a little scorn. My waist was bulging over my belt and my skin told the story of someone who had been making poor lifestyle choices for a long time. My head was swirling with the emotions of someone who had been hard done by. I needed the noise in my head to go away and almost without thinking, put on my hardly used running shoes and hit the neighborhood roads. What felt like a scene from chariots of fire, (lengthening strides, framed by a look of determination and a hero smile), most probably painted a very different picture. – more like a guy in a fat-suit skin bouncing up and down as he tried to pass pensioners whose strides were twice the length of his own shuffle.
I managed to run around the block just once. My lungs were on fire, my legs felt like they had led in them and my feet hurt….- but you know what?! – The incessant voices in my head had shut up for once. This was a little eureka moment for me. It seemed like I was able to tune out when I sought out some real discomfort.
Over the next months, whenever I started to think too much, to feel sorry for myself, I would put on my running shoes or head to the gym. I had understood that motion created better emotions. My self-esteem began to creep up the scale in increments. My self-respect began to return along with my abdominal muscles… On the outside, it looked as though I was reversing many years of making poor lifestyle choices. The really big changes occurred from within. I was becoming tougher. I had formed the habit of putting myself into discomfort on a daily basis and was beginning to feel that I could take on more challenging situations that life would throw at me. I was no longer so afraid. It had taken losing the family that meant the world to me, to realize that I was responsible for my own life.
It was during this time that I came across Tom Waits rendition of an old poem by Charles Bukowski… It’s called “Laughing Heart” and I’d like to share it with you.
“The Gods wait to delight in you.”
Your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
You can’t beat death, but you can beat death in life…
I love that! Far too many of us, live in the grey every day. It’s a safe place to be, for it knows neither the joy of victory nor the agony of defeat. We trudge along, happy to be in a comfortable zone that asks little of us, but at least takes little from us.
When last were you shit-scared to do something, but you did it anyway? – How did you feel about yourself afterward? – Provided that you weren’t streaking naked past the police station at night, (something I’m afraid to say I’ve done too), chances are you felt pretty exhilarated after you actually went out and did it.
This course is also about asking you to be a little uncomfortable at times. Do something that you are not accustomed to and in time, you will be doing more of that. Not only does an engaged physicality release a delicious amount of dopamine in your brain, but it teaches you that it’s ok to seek out discomfort, and it’s in those scary uncomfortable places that you find the little gold nuggets. Not every foray into discomfort will yield a nugget. Sometimes you’ll just have black soot all over you, but at least you’ll be out there often enough and in-so-doing, you’ll be opening yourself up to fate and the possibility of finding those nuggets.
Get out this weekend. Leave Netflix inside the TV, and make some memories inside your head and your heart. Get your sweat on. You’ll thank yourself later.