The hard things are what matter.
“Nothing worth having comes easy.” We’ve all heard that quote. Or my other favorite, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” For me it came from my mentors and a boxing coach. I always believed the quotes. Thought they were true. Even wrote them down a few times to get inspired.
The thing I didn’t do was embody them. I think that becomes a subtle difference. Between hearing and learning new things and embodying those ideas. What does it mean to move past doing things that are easy?
To choose the hard way, the difficult path, the one that I think perhaps has more meaning. Why has it become such an idea of the past to accept our hardships? As if it’s an old way of thinking. An outdated way of being.
I am part of a new generation. The ones who write best selling books on Amazon from a weekend of writing. The ones who find the cheapest and quickest way to build a business. Those who outsource every piece of our lives so we can accomplish more tasks. More and more tasks. Get more done faster. Give me those checked boxes. The crossed lines. I crave them so.
But we’ve forgotten to ask why. Why are we doing all these things? Money, fame, status or anything that makes us feel validated. Our life goal has been to make life easier. To live that dream life where everyone can see us float from one thing to next singing happy songs without a care in the world. The hammock in the tropical paradise. The exotic car blasting through the hills of Italy.
And some of it I get. We do need efficiencies. There are times we need to test an idea in a cheap and effective manner. The idea of self publishing is beautiful. There are more opportunities now than ever to express our craft. To voice our opinion. To do something about things that matter to us. Taking action has never become so much more accessible than it is today.
What I can not accept anymore is the idea of reserving your quality only for the things that selfishly matter to you. Thinking you need to reserve your effort. Your passion. Your love for a few things in life. Rather than embodying quality in everything you do. Taking pride in every moment of your life. Taking hardship on with humor, grace and love. With the knowledge that somehow you will make it through to the other side.
“The way we do anything, is the way we do everything.”
Our laziness. Our desire for ease. It can start to bleed into things that matter to us. Suddenly we become irritant. Impatient. Rushing through our passion projects. Not finding the time to spend with our loved ones. Choosing quantity over quality. Moving from one project to the next. We forget the beauty of living a little more slowly. Finding time to make the details just right. Building things of beauty.
The thing we all seek is the life of relative ease. The one where everyone loves us, we live somewhere beautiful and we float through our lives without a care. But it’s simply a mirage. It doesn’t exist. All that exists are the obstacles. The challenges that call us to show up as the best version of ourselves.
Beyond those obstacles are more obstacles. It never ends but rather becomes a habit of excellence to choose the hard way. To accept the hardships life hands to us. Perhaps we might fool ourselves for a few moments thinking that we’ve figured it out. That life is easy now. But every time I think that in my life, it has a funny way of showing me there is always something for me to grow on. A new idea to learn. A concept to embody.
It’s easy for us to become apathetic. Apathetic to the world around us. To the people living in it with us. To become focused only on ourselves. Convince ourselves there is no meaning to this life. We can do whatever we want. It’s easy to become trapped in academic notions. Intellectual ideas. To be a critic of everything around us. To lose responsibility for our lives.
But what happens to the person in the Arena? The one who chooses to keep fighting though it is difficult. It’s easy to write about theories. To read articles on how to be and what to do.
What I want to ask is, what happened to the person who wanted to build something beautiful?
To the person who was determined to change the world. Through her voice. Through writing. By going to those scary places and trying to make a difference. Where is the man who said he would build his dreams with his own two hands? Where are the artists who express themselves unafraid? Where are the people who choose to love even when it’s the hardest god damn thing to do in this world?
Where are those who care about the quality of life in not only themselves but those around them? The ones who instead of sharing political rants on Facebook are out on the streets trying to make a difference.
Give me the people who don’t just WANT to do amazing things. I want the people who are TRYING to do the incredible things. The ones who accept hardship. The ones who take it on with humor. With grace. With laughter and joy even though it may be the hardest thing to do.
The ones who keep fighting even though it’s the most difficult thing to do.
Not because you are going to make a lot of money. Or it will get you featured in a Forbes article. Or suddenly you will be validated for who you are and what you think. But because it matters. It matters to you to express that idea. To belong to a craft. To not only think of an idea but create it into existence.
Taking on the challenges is where I find my meaning. When I’m covered in the blood, dirt and dust of the battle. When I’ve failed over and over and over. When I’ve ignored the critics around me. When I found myself on the other side of that challenge. When I realize that I could do it all along as long I believed in myself. The moment when I look upon the things I have created and view them with great pride.
I’ve realized even in love. It’s the love that I have to put everything into that means something to me. The people in my life that push me past the edge. The relationships that make me deal with the hard things. The things that I know I have to take care of to be a better person. My love for my family, friends and relationships exists in that hardship. My love grows stronger from it. It becomes bigger and brighter. Because every day I work for it. I give every ounce of my soul because it is love. It’s the thing that matters the most in our lives. Love not just for others but for ourselves.
The hard thing is taking your time in what you do. Finding the time to become present to each second. Carefully refining and building. Finding joy in getting the details right. Maybe it will never be perfect but the difference between external and internal gratification is knowing 110% you tried your damn best.
Because that’s all that matters when you leave the arena. The only way to sleep with ease at night. The only way to get a glimpse of the true calm & serene life. The real one. The internal one not the one everyone can see but the one you can feel. When amid all the chaos. The impending doom. You find yourself calm and ready to take on the biggest challenge of your life. Because you know you gave your life. Your mission. Your passions. Your ideas. Your love. Everything that matters to you, you gave it the best god damn shot you had.
It is not the critic who counts
Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled.
Or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man in the arena
Whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood.
Who strives valiantly.
Who errs and come short again and again.
Who knows the great enthusiasm,
The great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause.
Who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.
And who at worst, if he fails
At least fails while daring greatly.
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
Who know neither victory or defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt.