I’m sitting at a coffee house in Hoi An, Vietnam named Cavalry, contemplating a recent frustration I’ve had in the editing process of my coming release The Essence of Lightness.
This book has been a blessing and a burden, and one that I had to fight through to finish. In it I lay out the philosophy and method of Weightlessness, the culmination of thirty years of mind training and research, twenty years of martial arts teaching, ten years of fitness coaching, and five years now of exclusive Weightlessness coaching.
I started this work four years ago in the hills of Bali, and have since put countless hours and thousands of dollars into its creation. And it’s quite likely it’ll be misunderstood, overlooked, or unappreciated. Yet here I am, pushing through to the finish line.
Where’s the fucking cavalry, the goddamned knights of support that are promised by every advocate of hustle and hard work out there?
Don’t worry; this isn’t (only) a sour grapes gripe session, quite the opposite.
I can sum my frustration regarding the editing process of this book as follows: those who can understand it can’t edit it, and those who can edit it can’t understand it. It’s been in the hands of a mind-body expert who called it brilliant. It’s been in the hands of an editor (who claimed to have expertise in the mind-body, philosophy, and wellness domain) who called in totally incomprehensible. And in the hands of a second editor who said its got excellent content, but most of the scientific discussions and philosophical arguments (of which the book largely is…) were above his head.
As you can imagine, it’s like getting to the end of a marathon where some asshole with a bucketful of marbles decides to trip you up just before the finish line…adding insult to injury.
But isn’t this often the case in life? We have people in our lives that might be able to support us, but who cannot really understand us. And then there are those who understand us, but are in no position to support, for whatever reason. And then there are random kids with marbles. And we focus on this. There we are, left in the void, feeling helpless and hopeless and misunderstood and ruminating on the unfairness of it all.
I think this is a pretty common byproduct of “trying” in general, and a certain byproduct of producing art. It’s inevitable. Which is why, and this is important, why we must endeavor to do things that have inherent meaning to us (at least with some of our time, if not all), for we can never predict when the cavalry will arrive to support us to that next level…if ever.
Most artists, entrepreneurs, and dream pursuers in general fail with a capital F, meaning they quit the game, not because they could not at some point have succeeded, but because they don’t survive the journey. It hurts to fall. And it’s terrifying to face ruin naked and alone.
There are points of compromise for us all, where we have to decide if I do that meaningful thing, make time for it, commit to it ongoing, or tell myself if I just get a little farther ahead in life, get that raise, make more money, find some more free time, that I’ll have more time to do it better, to do it right…just later.
And there dies the artist and the entrepreneur. Because they’ve just traded passion for a promise, and that elusive payoff from the “safe” bet is never guaranteed. And if that doesn’t payoff, well then the dream is lost and the comfort, time, and money believed to come, hasn’t. And where are you? Same place, minus the years spent pursuing a tradeoff.
The artist must be willing to die on his sword. The entrepreneur must have skin in the game. And we all must remember that the role of creation isn’t to get, it’s to give. It’s to add value, to express heartfelt truth, to help others.
If one day that payoff, that recognition, that diaper money comes in, well, whew, dodged a bullet. But if it doesn’t, then at least some life was lived, some personal truth and passion expressed, some value added.
When you get to the end of the marathon and you see that little prick with the marbles, sprint faster. Don’t slow down. Jump kick him in the teeth. Lay his unconscious body over the marbles, and march over him to that finish line a conquering hero…a hero that will still be misunderstood, and possibly go to jail. But don’t let him take your ambitions from you.
Ok, this has gone from a personal insight to terrible life advice. Let me correct a bit. It’s far better to slow down and let those in second, third and fourth place slip on the marbles, and then use their caravan of sweat and exhaustion to bridge the gap. You’ll find that kid later.
My point, if you’re still with me, is that you’re the fucking cavalry. You’re the value add. You’re the support that people just like you are looking for. That’s why you’re doing what you do. It’s probably exhausting and thankless. But nobody wants the knights in shining armor. I don’t at least.
Those guys haven’t seen battle yet. I want blood stained steel, crows feet next to the eyes, weathered, leathery skin, calloused hands and deep, unwavering eyes. I want scarred hearts…yet strong backs and steady gazes.
I want the guys that have bled, have lost, have sacrificed, and who are willing to step into the shit time and time again because its meaningful. Because they’re those guys, the guys that take it for the cause, the ones that fight when others are afraid or tired or lost.
And that’s a choice that you and I get to make. It’s not a gift from the outside. We need to decide if we’re warriors for our own causes, whatever they may be. You wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t meaningful, if you didn’t believe it adds value.
And then we need to decide if we’re waiting for the cavalry, or if marbles kid is getting the business end of our swords.
And when the world says, “I don’t get you…I don’t see you,” it’s not the time to step back and ask why there’s no help coming. It’s time to become the help, to audit the value we’re putting out into the world and who we’re helping, and to keep moving forward with the knowledge and conviction that we’re acting from meaning, from purpose.
Focus not on the helpless void, become the fucking cavalry.