“So many of us chose our path out of fear disguised as practicality,” Jim Carrey once said.
“My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him. So, he made a conservative choice and instead he got a job as an accountant.”
“When I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. Our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
For those of you who do not know Jim Carrey’s story, when he says his family had to do “whatever we could to survive” he’s not referring to clipping coupons. His family lived out of a VW bus for periods of time. For a while, he was living in a tent. In Canada. This was what happened to his family after his father made the “right” choice.
Now, this anecdote isn’t here to tell you, “try to go pro in poker, screw it!” It’s here to remind you of a sad fact:
You’re never safe.
None of us is ever safe.
The present is a gift because our health should not be taken for granted. Sadly, some are afflicted with cancer early. Others develop debilitating depression that takes years of concerted care to break through. If they ever break through it at all.
If we are healthy, then there are always finances. Financial issues are the norm, not the exception. Most people at some point in their lives will struggle with a financial issue. This is why family and specialized education is so important.
If our health and finances are in order, then there is still the matter of our family members. Sadly, most of us will have to deal with our parents becoming sick at some point.
Now, I’m sure at this point you’re reading this article and going, “what’s your problem Alex? I didn’t want to read this today.”
I get it. When a mentor of mine confronted me with this information, I was pissed as well. But then he got through to me.
We need to know that the present is a gift. We need to show appreciation through the effort we give. Because if everything is going well, that is a gift. So much can go wrong, and at some point, it’s likely something will go wrong. We are never 100% safe from discomforting circumstances.
In this realization, however, there is power.
Yes. It empowers us to know that we are never safe.
Let me give you an example:
My friend is a tour manager. When he’s not worried about hissing speakers, failing tour buses, and promoters not paying up, he still has to deal with musicians every single night.
During one particularly brutal tour, my friend told me one of the band members said they weren’t going to play music anymore. Keep in mind, this band member quitting would have ensured my friend would lose his job. My friend had to talk to this diva about why he had to do the job he was already paid to do, and not endanger everybody else’s livelihood.
I asked him the obvious question, “does your job get too stressful at times?”
“No man, I love it,” he answered without missing a beat. “I love the chaos. I love knowing no one else could handle this shit but me. I love my job.”
What did you read in that statement?
I saw, in those brief sentences, the mark of a pro.
Look at everything he said there. “I love the chaos. I love knowing no one else could handle this shit but me.”
He owns his responsibilities. He owns the fact he’s never safe.
He could complain about his job. He’d have every right.
Yet, he recognizes, as a man should, that he is the one who took the gig. He refuses to complain about his responsibilities. Instead, he takes ownership of them.
Look at the emotional intelligence of his position. “I love the chaos.” That is someone who views challenges as a chance to grow. How far can this man go?
Look at the self-care. “I love knowing no one else could handle this shit but me.”
My friend is a kind man. He is sensitive and quick to love. He believes in people. He is patient with people and is always there for them.
However, he knows he can only provide for others if he has a spine. He can’t pour from an empty vessel. He takes care of himself first.
He takes ownership of his job. To make the statement, “I love knowing no one else can do this but me” he must show up every single day. He must be ready to work.
The faith he has in himself gives him joy. In that earned self-esteem, he is a giving man.
You can always identify a man like this. There are telltale signs.
My friend is no different.
People love being around him. Wealthy men loan him their vacation homes. Women far beyond his “league” fall for him. He lives like a rich man, despite not caring much for money.
Do you know why he can have this life?
He is antifragile.
He doesn’t begrudge chaos. He understands he grows through chaos and stressors.
He could teach us a great deal about our life, but let’s turn our gaze to poker now.
Poker is a great teacher. Poker is pure chaos. The one who learns to love the storm becomes the one who harnesses it.
You see many players these days who want the exact opposite of chaos. They want perfect ranges and rules they can apply to every situation. They want games where everybody behaves according to their unspoken rules. They become frustrated when players throw them curve balls, as opposed to appreciating the situation as an opportunity to grow. They stick religiously to their preordained rules as opposed to keeping their eyes open, appreciating the storm.
To become adept at life we must embrace our responsibilities. Our chief responsibility in life is to handle constantly evolving conditions that always threaten us. The Stoics have literally been discussing this for thousands of years.
To embrace life more fully, I think one can learn terrific lessons through the card table. But this will only occur if we take ownership of the fact we’re never safe, that no perfect plan will save us. We will only become more skilled if we learn to love new challenges and keep our eyes open.