Vail Daily column: Don’t read this
“Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
“Yes, every once in a while.”
“Do you know that in about thirty-five more years we’ll be dead?”
“What the hell, Robert,” I said. “What the hell.”
— Ernest Hemingway
This column might not be for you. I don’t have time or words today to give you a nice pretty setup of why you should read it. I can’t tell you a personal experience that properly illustrates my point, or even helps support why what I say will matter, and I’m not going to take the time to sway your mind.
I do not profess to be any kind of expert, or that I have some sacred gift of insight that should cause you to hear me.
You see, I’m not trying to pander to the gray faceless masses that will eventually disappear into history. I can find plenty of mediocrity and acceptance on a row of stools in any bar in this town, but if you’re reading this column from a bar stool, then know that my words don’t mean that you somehow belong there or that you somehow don’t. This is a summoning call to a very select few — a battle cry, a voice recognizing that I know you, at least in part.
Are you winning in the way that you have defined it for your own life? There are lots of ways to win, but I have been witness all too often to lives that have defined winning in the short term by the acceptance of what many of us would call “pretty good” circumstances. Good — the mortal enemy of greatness. I spit on good.
I’m good at lots of things. I once became a master pretzel maker for $7.50 an hour. I’m damn good at making pretzels. I did it for more than a year of my life. Not that I have anything against anyone who has made a profession out of making pretzels. Let me ask you though: Are you becoming an expert in something that will help you achieve what you have defined as great?
You have a dream, or at the very least, you had one once. Did they get you to trade it in for something more reasonable? Perhaps this nice mass market model of living a good life is more in line with your tolerance and budget for greatness.
Ah, you see the price you would have to pay for that dream. It’s pretty steep.
Some of you are already getting a little riled up right? Some of you are saying, “How dare you? I have obligations now. A family, a mortgage payment, a steady blahdy-blah with prospects for minor improvements but equally minor soul-sucking trade-offs.”
I know my friend, I know. It doesn’t matter what I think, though, right? So why does your mind jump to justify? Forget about what I think. Philosophically, do you see why it might be concerning that your own mind immediately moves to justify your choices? I don’t know your circumstances or your heart — just make sure that you aren’t allowing all the reasons why you live your life to become the reasons why you are not doing something to change the way you live your life.
What would happen if you let that dream sink its teeth into you and tear you to shreds? Sounds painful, right? It is, but it’s a good pain. You see, you’re already experiencing a pain anyway. The pain you feel right now is being chosen, however, by influences outside of yourself. It is the pain of the gap between what you are in your heart and what you are currently doing. Nothing in your heart matters if you do not allow your heart to manifest through your actions.
You can come to realize what winners and conquerors have known for centuries — there is a self-induced pain that will set you free. You get to pick your pain, and if you pick this pain, the end result is a state of growth and catharsis that you have never known before. Those who have tasted true greatness know this as the pain of self-discipline. You see, you were born to be kings and queens — conquerors. Not over lands. Not over other men. You will rule over your own life. This time that you have been given. It is the kingdom of your life.
I’m writing today to those hearts which start to burn with agreement, frustration, determination or fear as they feel these words.
You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to burn it all down tomorrow. If you start today to take a few small steps in the right direction, then know that small steps compound to large distances.
Then one day, you will be changed. Those that never made a move will hardly recognize you. You will be apart, an outsider and you will have learned once and for all that the only thing worth your fear was in your own mind.
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.
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