Vail Daily column: Flip the switch
July 30, 2014
It's 11 a.m. on Saturday, and I'm sitting here in the Brush Creek Saloon poring over my calendar, looking through my week's work, and thinking a little more than is likely healthy for any given Saturday morning.
I don't know where this particular saying actually came from, but you know that feeling you get when you think there is one more stair at the top of the staircase? Maybe you're in the dark, or just not paying attention. That feeling you get when you realize that there isn't one more step … that's a pretty good description for how I'm feeling right now.
I put in my earbuds as I flip open this disastrously old laptop and start typing away, trying to put on paper the thoughts that would otherwise render my free time utterly distracted. My station is "Eye of the Tiger" radio — a collection of assorted AC/DC, Journey and other selections of badassity. "Standing in the rain, with his head hung low, couldn't get a ticket … " I already start to feel the subtly angry and triumphantly painful emotion that has always seemed to be at the core of my best times. My best times have always been the times when I have decided to move forward.
Across the bar, an old cowboy with a handlebar mustache pours the last of his snuff into the palm of his hand to take a bump. A Coors original sits in front of him, as he plays with the collar of his pearl snap shirt. A gold chain with one of the saints hangs loosely around his neck, and his gray chest hair pokes over the second undone snap. He looks straight ahead as he enjoys his beer, occasionally commenting to his buddy about golf as they share some shoulder time. His dignity over the morning suggests this might be a time-honored and important tradition. I would certainly agree that it might be, regardless of how many times this tradition has occurred.
I have a sneaking suspicion that most people spend their lives telling themselves the same stories over and over and over again. As I look at my own life, I'm trying to figure out what stories I'm telling myself. What is the narrative that is keeping me from doing or being what I might, perhaps, be destined to be? Is that thought in and of itself a story? Is the assumption that you or I might be destined to do something a story? And if it is, then is that necessarily a negative thing? My mom used to tell me that deja vu was a sign from God that you were on the right track. I sure hope that's the case, especially this morning. I don't know … enough about me.
What are you trying to do? Is your life more than simply survival? If it's not, then maybe it's time to take a step back and look at how you are spending your time. I don't profess to be an expert on life … in fact, you're probably better off not getting involved in the existential crises of any particular writer. We can be a moody bunch … especially when that moodiness is actually based on real events. My perception is though that none of us need to settle or fail to chase our dreams. Maybe that's a perspective exclusive to the young.
I think we should live without fear. I think we should live without the concern of personal loss or risk. Yes, the world is fraught with danger. Yes, some of us will take advantage of those that live openly. We should live with faith anyway. I don't necessarily mean faith in God … just faith. It's like turning on the light switch of your mind. We flip the switch because we need light, and we believe that the light will come. I think we just have to make the decision to flip the switch. Some call it confidence — I call it faith. It is the action that occurs when you believe that you will win. Let's go get our wins.
Can you imagine what would happen if we all just decided to give instead of take, and this decision happened for every person in the world all at the same time? Can you imagine what we could accomplish together? We don't have to play small. There's just no reason for your weak game. If we start acting like we can make a difference, we will. The power to do what you want to do is inside you, and it's inside me. It's inside this old cowboy at the bar. It's inside the young Czech woman who refills my diet coke. It's inside the talented Hispanic cook that I can see in the kitchen. We are all long shots — so what? Would you rather walk away?
Even if you are telling yourself a story, is it going to be a good one at least?
I know way too many people here right now that I didn't know last year — I swear it feels like the last few nights we've been everywhere and back. What am I doing, what am I doing?
OK, I'm ready. Earbuds are out. Time to act. I'm ready for another week that may or may not be the last week of my life. I'm flipping the switch back on. What about you?
Ben Gochberg is a commercial lender and business finance consultant. He plays, lives, works and is trying to do a little good in Eagle County. He can be reached for business inquiries or free consultation at 970-471-3546.