After reading a recent post I wrote on my exercise routine, a friend of mine asked me how I stayed motivated. His question led to the following exchange:
“Are your parents still together?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“Anyone die young in your family?”
“Anyone have addiction issues?”
“Well there you go. You don’t the proper amount of motivating fear.”
I think he thought I was kidding, until I reiterated that my primary motivation for doing anything, from exercising to brushing my teeth 15 times a day to working late, is driven by fear.
If you’ve read any of my previous postings or know me personally, you know that the nuclear family I grew up in has had some extremely difficult times. Some of those hard times were the result of choices they made, others were the result of circumstances beyond their control. I never grew up with a middle ground. My parents either had good jobs, or were on a downward spiral that knew no bottom.
No one in my family ever lost a job, experienced a few weeks or months of unemployment, then got back in the saddle. No one ever got divorced, and re-entered a healthy relationship a few years later. No one ever tried a drug, and then moved on.
What I have seen happen is my dad lose a job and enter a very rough patch that lasted more than a decade. That rough patch included him living alone in an abandoned airplane hangar without electricity in the middle of the desert.
My dad has had partial dentures from a young age, and during the rough patch, when a tooth broke out, he was forced into desperate circumstances and had to fashion a replacement tooth from a coyote skull he has found.
That’s a true story, and one that actually makes me proud of him. I love that my dad didn’t quit after going down a tooth, and instead borrowed one from a coyote, and kept at it. He’s doing a lot better today, and again has dentures fit for a human.
But still, the face of job loss for me has a smile that includes the tooth of a coyote.
No Country for Young Boys and Girls
I have a really wonderful life. I have an interesting career, a beautiful family, and to date I haven’t experienced the challenges my family did growing up. I have all of my own human teeth, and have never even had a cavity.
A lot of things have helped create that life. Part of it was luck, and I do believe there is some force in the universe that has helped me in little ways along my path, but much of what I have is the result of hard work that is the result of a constant fear of what will happen if I stop working this hard.
My life is an enviable life, and I hope that my kids have a similarly happy life one day. It might look different than mine, but I hope that they get where they want to go, and that other people look at them and wonder how they did it.
I just hope they are able to do it in a healthier way.
I hope they can take a day off from the gym to watch the sunrise with their significant other, without worrying that they have started on a path that ends with them dying at young age. I hope they can walk away from work for a day, without worrying that they are on a path that ends with them waking up with an oddly sharp tooth, and a strange craving for raw meat.
I hope they can find a way to achieve what they want to achieve by running toward the light, rather than running from the dark
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