Tag Archives: willpower

Listening for the Unreturned Echo


“Sometimes the world seems like a big hole. You spend all your life shouting down it and all you hear are echoes of some idiot yelling nonsense down a hole.”      -Adam Duritz

I double-checked the address. The flap was sealed without a crease. A Forever stamp was cleanly tucked into the corner.  I watched the mail carrier slide it into his satchel. An irrefutable delivery confirmation teased the idea of progress. So why am I left staring at empty inboxes? How can every call made to the universe go unanswered? Why should a desire to bring positive change be met with such opposition?

Recently, I was discussing the sensation of life in LA with some friends. I used the metaphor of a series of tall concrete walls. Placed strategically in a circle with just enough space between them to present the false illusion of freedom, the only way to escape the enclosure is to sprint, at full velocity, directly into the unbending slab. You crash, stand up, shake the dust from your shirt, and then speed head first into the next one. Being an isolated idea maker isn’t a job for the faint-hearted.

In your mind, you believe it’s tenacity and the will to succeed. You subscribe to all the theories that recommend attacking a problem from a unique angle, never doing things the same way and expecting a different result, keeping your nose to the grindstone, etc. There is an addictive false sense of forward momentum, simply because one foot is traveling in front of the other. But racing on the surface of quicksand will only bring you so far. Like dancing in the open jaw of an alligator, execution ultimately falls short of strategy.

So, is the answer to stop trying? Should you simply refuse to acknowledge the impetus to help others through your work? Do you chalk up years of tireless toil to one giant strikeout? After innumerable swings and countless misses, do you throw the bat to the ground, shake your head, and wave that white flag?

No. Not now. Not ever.

Adolescence Interrupted 

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The Fight

fight1Life is a brawl, but some of us have the innate ability to pull ourselves up from the mat, even when every cell in our bodies is screaming at us to stay down. Why do some people reach for that rope while others accept defeat?

This has been a central question throughout my writing, research, and life. I’m endlessly fascinated by survivors and the wiring required to face seemingly insurmountable obstacles with the mentality that failure is an unacceptable option. It’s more than willpower and a strong constitution. The defiance to fall is born from a fire raging deep within the recesses of our memories. It’s fueled by history and circumstance.

I can only speak from personal experience, but low self-esteem and an unrelenting drive to prove myself worthy have combined to transform fragile guts to concrete. My reluctance to bow is propelled by an incessant need to demonstrate inner strength. Spitting in the face of slim odds and disheartening diagnoses became my religion. Of course, there were times when that resolve faltered, but the mentality endured. I credit the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mantra for my health and sense of purpose today.

Is this level of fight something learned? Can people be trained to be survivors or are they only built on the battlefield? Will someone without a difficult past still find the determination needed to break down walls of fear, despair, or hopelessness?

These are questions I will continue to ask in my pursuit of clarity. The human condition and the psychological puppet master pulling the strings are fascinating areas of study. Plus, what’s a day without some wildly complicated topic to obsess about?!

Adolescence Interrupted