“Don’t quote your heroes, become them.”
Alright, I’ll admit that there are layers of irony involved in using a quote about not quoting others. But Ryan isn’t my hero; he’s my friend. And besides, the quote is cool — even cooler than a bowtie.
If only Ryan had said it a couple of years ago, it’d have been useful. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t have heard it. You ever have times like that? There’s a great lesson, perhaps even the exact lesson you need, staring you in the face…and you walk away from it.
If you were sitting in a theater watching the movie of your life, “No! How can you possibly walk away from help and toward the serial killer!” would be screaming in your head. But the real you walks away anyhow. I went through that for a while.
There’s a website called Early to Rise that I read. A guy named Craig Ballantyne is part owner and writes most of the articles. The ideas he writes about aren’t new to me. They’re part of the motivational, self-help, and financial information that inspired me to go to college, become a doctor, and run my own business of helping others.
The ideas he writes about stem from principles that have stood the test of time.
And yet, for a while, I thought they no longer applied to me. I was broken — I can no longer physically take the demands of treating patients or going for the long hikes I once loved or playing the occasional game of tennis. Even just trying to keep up with yard and house work is a struggle.
The Early to Rise emails kept showing up in my inbox like they were automated and didn’t know how much my life sucked. I’d intend to delete them, but the subject line would pull me in, and I’d read Craig’s latest story. Instead of inspiring me, I’d get a little pissed off that his words no longer applied to me. Early to Rise…yeah, that’d be great if only I were able to rise.
That continued for over a year until one day I sat beneath a bridge and realized that we’re all broken (you, me, the lot of us that are too tall – short- fat – skinny – tired – poor – pretty – ugly – bogged down with emotional baggage – in pain – unable to do what we once did – old – young -etc.,). But broken doesn’t matter. The type of broken wasn’t the same as it had always been, but I was just as able to rise as ever.
I can look back and laugh at myself. It was easy to embrace and apply the principles of success when I was young, rested, and life on my own was in many ways easier than life as a kid had been. But when I most needed to grab onto them — when I needed something steady to guide me and stop the desperate bouncing from one plan to another — I turned away from the logical path of help and walked the one heading toward the movie serial killer even though the theater audience was screaming not to do it.
Only it wasn’t me the fictional killer was after. It was my hopes, dreams, and ability to live a purposeful life…on second thought, the killer was after me.
A few years have passed since I sat below a bridge and realized that until death claims us, we’re all able to rise. The moments when you and I most think we can’t — the times when you think you’re an exception or exclusion or that what you want is impossible — if you’re still breathing, you’re wrong. Suck it up Sweet Pea and use those breaths to improve yourself.
What if I’m wrong and there is no way to improve your or my situation? Well, won’t your life have more meaning if you keep trying than if you just quietly slip away? There’s going to be pain and heartache either way. You might as well fight for some laughter and love to go with it. If things can’t get better for you, why not use your last breaths to make them better for someone else?
I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m just saying it’s possible. If I can do it, so can you. You’re able to rise, to become the heroes you like to quote, to change your life. I don’t know if you’re willing, but you’re able.