Sunday, April 5, 2009

Impossible is Nothing

We all have our go-to web sites. Whether it’s, Facebook or some other random address on the internet, logging onto them is part of our daily routine, a non-negotiable requirement that must be met before we can do…you know…actual work.

As a lifelong University of Texas fan, is at the top of my list, a one-stop-shop for everything Longhorn athletics. Game analysis, practice reports, recruiting updates – it’s the perfect fix for the I-care-way-too-much UT sports addict.

Recently, I was scrolling through the message boards when I came across a thread titled “Cool Video.” Typically, the videos posted aren’t anything remarkable (unless you’re like me and get excited over highlight tapes of high school football players), but this one was different…

Nick Vujicic was born without any limbs. Doctors have never been able to give him a medical explanation why.

Seeing him, my first reaction was, “How do I have any problems?” This guy was dealt one of the worst possible hands in the deck – no arms, no legs, no reason – and here I am, blessed with an embarrassment of good fortune. My day-to-day existence has to be as challenging as a first-grade spelling test compared to his.

But then I quickly stopped myself. While this was a great reminder to be appreciative, I’ve never believed in living by the motto of "It could be worse." Not only is it an attitude that tends to make light of people’s pain (regardless of outside opinion, whatever you’re struggling with is very real and very hurtful for you), it can be a crutch on complacency.

There was a time not long ago when my life appeared just fine on the surface. I had a job, I had friends and I could afford to go to Chik-Fil-A on Saturday night.

But in reality, I was in a rut, paralyzed by fear and anxiety, wondering if I’d ever find a way out. I felt just like Mr. Vujicic looked.

Emotionally, I didn’t have any limbs.

With my cheery face and fake laugh, though, I’d be surprised if anyone knew I was hurting. How could they? I wasn’t even being honest with myself, hiding behind these society-celebrated comforts, rationalizing that things weren’t so bad.

But no matter how many times I forced a Joker smile – and suffered from the sore jaw that developed afterwards – it didn’t change the fact that, deep down, I knew my life was not going as I hoped.

As a kid, I had always dreamed of living outside the lines, believing that I really could do anything I set my mind to. But as an adult, I couldn’t get out of my own way, fearing the uncertainty of it all. What if I failed? What if I – gasp! – succeeded? What if I embarrassed myself? What would happen then?

These questions loomed, taunting me every time I tried to get in the game. So I kept bailing out, scurrying to the security of the sidelines whenever the anxiety would kick in.

All the while my life dripped away, moment after wasted moment.

Finally, I realized I had a simple choice to make: continue to live a lie and go through the status-quo motions, or stand in there and fight for my dreams.

Because the truth is that there’s ALWAYS a reason why you can’t do something. That’s too hard…it’s not realistic…I have a mortgage…We’ve got a nice little Saturday planned at Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond…there’s no shortage of excuses to justify the standard operating procedure.

Yes, all of these hurdles are real, and yes, they are intimidating. But when you transform them from peripheral molehills into Class 5 Mountains, they end up being the only things you can see.

At the end of the day, though, they are nothing more than details, and details should never stand in the way of happiness. Instead, if you can focus on what you truly want and immerse yourself in the process of making it happen, the positive energy that’s generated will help you get through the inevitable challenges you’ll face.

There may be times when your mind hurts and your heart aches and your inner demons are doing the “wave” in your stomach. It’ll be tempting to give up and crawl back to your safe, comfortable existence.

And that’s when you need to remember Nick Vujicic.

The man was given every conceivable reason to never get out of bed, yet he spends his life traveling the world, spreading hope and inspiring others. Because he knows – he personifies – that it doesn’t matter how impossible the odds are, or how many times you’ve failed, or how hard you’ve fallen…

All that matters is that you keep getting back up.

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"It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?