An Open Letter To Pessimists
I know the drill. I was you, once. I remember what it was like. I was 390lbs, sitting in a cubicle at a software farm all day every day. I ate pizza pretty much three meals a day. I hated my job. But I was allowed to wear what I wanted, bring toys in, and decorate, so there was at least a semblance of controlling my own life and destiny.
When it came to fitness, I made the jokes about fit people. I laughed at Bill Hicks's routine about Jim Fixx, laughing about how this guy ran every day of his life and died of a heart attack relatively young while others drink and smoke and have tons of sex and snort coke and live to be 100. I laughed at the marathon stickers that say 0.0 - Running Sucks.
When it came to dreams outside of affording whatever prison I'd just locked myself into, I made snide comments about people who wrote on their books after work and on weekends. I poked fun at self publishing. I snickered at the guy who was training for competitive (prize) adventure racing whenever he could. I talked about "growing up" and "being an adult" and "reality checks" and all those code phrases we use to describe people we secretly resent.
I was a sad, sad person.
"Reality check!" I used to say when I thought of writing my book or finding time for the gym. There simply isn't enough time. The ramp up time took so long it wasn't worth it. And even if it was, I would never reach the peak I feel I should be capable of, so why bother.
I used to lament not being able to follow my dreams. But hey, I had to work. I had a house to pay for. I had two car notes. I had a wife to support. I had it all. Except happiness. I look back on it now, and I know that I had no idea how miserable a person I really was back then.
These days, I have less. Much less, in fact. No house. No wife. No collectables and toys coming to me via Amazon and ThinkGeek every day. But I smile every single morning when I wake up, and I smile every single night when I go to bed. Because I quit wishing and I started believing. I stopped tearing others down and started building myself up.
I don't want to live forever. Hell, I don't want to live one day longer than I get to. And that's the thing, I quit worrying about how long I'm going to live, because I quit worrying about "Someday." That's the thing -- you're obsessed with "someday" because that's the day you finally get to do whatever it is you dream of doing all day.
I already get to do that. Because I obsess over today. I am infatuated with the sunrise. I am in love with the sound of the birds as they sing when I go out running in the morning. I adore the taste of my morning banana.
I love life. More specifically, I love my life. Because it's mine, and I get to make it whatever the hell I want.
I hope you get to do that one day. I really do. Because I can tell you from first hand experience, the day you do is the day you will quit trying to level the cosmic playing field with your insults and witty observations and "reality checks." Something you really need to get through your head: your reality sucks. And deep down, you know it does. So you go around letting the air out of everyone else's balloons, because if you can't fly, no one else should, either.
It's jealousy and pettiness manifest in bitterness and a narcissistic need to bring the world to your level. You can't fly, so you shoot birds out of the sky. It's sad. Not "I'm going to insult you by calling you sad" sad, but genuinely, it makes my heart hurt for you. Because I was you. And I hated me.
I don't hate you. I pity you. And that's far, far worse. Pity is reserved for the helpless, and you're helpless. Because you've resigned yourself to a fate you pretend is inflicted on you by "reality" when it's actually your own prison.
I have three things to say to you, in this order:
First, you CAN change. You can literally be anything you want. Have kids? Have a job? Have a wife? Have a family? Have all that crap? So fucking what. You can still do it. You CAN find the time to do whatever you choose to do, and the rest of the entire world WILL fall in line. Trust me on this.
The second, if you don't change, it's not my fault. It's not your wife's fault. It's not your husband's fault. It's not your kids' fault. It's not your parents' fault. It's not your job's fault. It's YOUR fault, and you own it.
The third, if you can't handle that responsibility and decide to pawn it off on me by reminding me that despite my workouts, I'm going to die just like everyone else, or I can't make it as a writer, or it's not realistic to follow my dreams, well, fuck you. Watch me fly. Or don't. I don't care. I won't be standing around waiting to ask you if you saw me succeed, because I'm going to keep moving. And so is everyone else who has finally figured this out.
Keep trying to shoot birds out of the sky. You might hit a few. Go you. I hope it makes you feel less miserable; clipping peoples' wings and bringing them down to your level. But here's my own "reality check" for you -- you can't stop us all. No matter how many people you bring down, you're still going to die like the rest of us… Only we're going to die with a smile on our faces. Because we figured it out. And you'll spend the entirety of your time here unhealthy, either physically or emotionally or both.
It's not about living forever, or even living longer. It's about making the most of living, period. And because I finally took control of my own life and concentrated on lifting myself up instead of constantly bringing everyone else tomorrow, if I die tomorrow, I'm going to die happy. I sincerely hope that one day, you get to a place where you can say the same.