Last week something happened that genuinely moved me. Something happened that made me nervous, made me smile, made me tear up, and above all, made me feel good.
I was walking through the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina and passed a man playing music on a little Casio keyboard. I didn’t think anything of it and chalked it up to just another homeless person peddling for cash. We passed by and walked into a nearby restaurant to have dinner.
Almost immediately, as cliche as it sounds, an indescribable feeling came over me. I thought to myself that it seemed shitty that we were waiting for our named to be called at an upscale restaurant, while this man sat outside on the curb playing music to earn a few bucks. I gained a little perspective, told my wife that I’d be right back, and went back outside to talk to the man.
His name was John Middleton. I learned this after I handed him a $100 bill.
Walt Disney had the following to say about his movie-making process. And I believe we can (and should) adopt his mantra in what we create.
“We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”
There’s a simple reason you’re getting burned out. There’s a reason your spinning your wheels on an idea but somehow can’t make yourself take the next step. You’re too damn concerned with what everyone else thinks. What you think everyone else wants to read. What you think they want to buy. What you think will sell. What you think will be shared and liked and bookmarked and favorited.
In the past 24 hours a question has been swirling around in my head, haunting me, begging to be answered. It’s a question I’ve been faced with many, many times before and it’s the question that has driven me to where I am today.
It’s a repeating pattern to be faced with this question the immediate days following a marathon. For months I prepare myself, mentally and physically, for the challenge of running 26.2 miles. I stay true to a training schedule. I watch what I eat. I count down the days. Then, the day finally arrives, and just a few short hours later, the medal hanging from my neck, it’s over. And time after time I’m left asking myself:
I’m deathly afraid of complacency. I’d argue that apathy is universally one of our biggest fears. Why? Because apathy is easy. Complacency is comfortable. Settling into a routine is safe.
“Whew”, I let out emphatically. Sometimes words just don’t do a moment justice. Sometimes, a good old-fashioned, “Whew” perfectly and beautifully says it all.
I wish I could hold onto this moment. I wish I could bottle it and have a sip of its sweet, sweet nectar anytime I’m feeling doubtful. Anytime I’m questioning or second guessing myself. Anytime I find myself asking, “is this worth it?” This moment, this energy, proves that it always was, and always is.
I look around and I get a sense that I’m not the only one with these thoughts. I see couples hugging each other, congratulating each other on surviving the long journey. I see parents hugging children, complete strangers shaking hands, smiles – albeit it slightly nervous ones. I see many with no friends or family – just themselves and their thoughts. They’re likely thinking, “I finally made it”.
Through moments of pain, struggle, and self-doubt, in taking bold leaps and tallying personal triumphs, we, collectively, have found ourselves at the end of the road, which ironically is only the beginning.