My good friend Eric Delegard told me one time “Eric, you like a challenge.” He is a great friend I have known for over 20 years and he is right I do like a challenge. An easy life teaches nothing. I am not scared of anyone, anything or any place in life. I don’t even fear death. We are defined by our opponents and let me present this question to you:
Is the purpose of life, to win?
Many people would tell you that it is. Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach said “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” I have a problem with that. If winning is everything wouldn’t it make sense to choose an easy opponent?
Yehuda Savin, who teaches a Kabbalah class I enjoy attending, brought this up in a great way. Let’s use the game of tennis as an example. If winning is everything why wouldn’t you choose a 5 year old novice as your tennis partner and annihilate him every time?
You see, this is a profound and valid point. What made Larry Bird great is having Magic Johnson to deal with. They came in the league at the same time and kept each other on their toes. When I was growing up I did not know I was Italian yet. I had a playful rivalry with my best friend Chris Sacco as to who was a better guitar player. Brent Ralston used to call me and Chris up and fuel the fires of this playful competition by asking us who was better. Chris and I were both better off because of it, and both became great guitarists.
Michael Jordan is the most overrated basketball player of all time. It took him 6 years and the guidance of the brilliant coach Phil Jackson to finally not be a ball hog and win a championship. Like my friend Clint Strong says, you should always try to be the worst guy in your band. Bird and Magic’s impact was immediate, as was Kobe Bryant’s. Magic won the championship his first year in the league. Larry Bird won it the following year. Instant impact from players with a complete, all around game that was not selfish. Michael Jordan was basically a good athlete with marginal shooting skills as long as he was close to the basket. Proof of this can be easily viewed by watching the bitter nature of Michael Jordan’s NBA Hall of Fame speech.
This is why I was so proud when I wrote “Keep Denton Beard?” We have to have something that drives us. I personally disdain pretentious know it all musicians who use the “indie label” as some kind of cloak for slacking and making themselves feel important. We settle for less in life when we don’t have an opponent that drives us. Desire rises to the level of desire. That opponent can be your own little nay-Sayer inside of you. It does not always have to be someone outside of you. The resistance is what makes us great. The effort that we do in this world is the effort of transforming our mind and going against our nature. It is easy to be lazy. I do not want to be a passive player in the game of life, I want to create my own destiny and I encourage you to do the same.
Do you not like yourself?
Do you not want to be the cause of your own fulfillment? Any time you go against your own nature it creates tension and a fire inside your soul to move in the direction of your life’s bliss. If you want lasting fulfillment you have to earn it. As I said before, an easy life teaches nothing. Fulfillment that you have earned, no one can take that away from you.
That is why you must be careful who you hang around. Hang around enlightened individuals who encourage you. In the word enlightened we find the word “Light” encapsulated. Nay-Sayers and Yeah-but people come from the dark side. Negativity. Darkness and light cannot exist in the same room. Wherever there is darkness there is just not enough light. Here is a great tale Yehuda shared with us that comes from the wisdom inherent in Native American tribal lore.
When a young man is ready to make the transition to warrior the elders take him into the woods. There are two wolves there, a white wolf and a black wolf. The white wolf represents the light and doing well and the black wolf represents darkness and not believing in yourself. The warrior is then informed by the elders that the two wolves will fight and he is asked which one will win. Perplexed he asked the elders “How will I know?” The answer is profound.
Which ever wolf you feed is going to win the war.
Which wolf will you feed?