The Exception to the Rule

Over the last three months, there has been a lot of worry and angst amongst my friends and relatives, with the exception of two people. Instead of addressing each individual, it’s probably more productive if I write a post covering all the basic concerns, and use it as a teaching tool for those outside my personal and social circle to learn from. Of the basic concerns, the three biggest ones are:
1. Wasting my abilities chasing my dream(s) without “something to fall back on”.
2. Accusations that I don’t have some sort of detailed plan.
3. Having to do things the hard way.
Before I go into further detail, I want to make something clear: in no way do I harbor any animosity towards anyone who has tried to help or give advice. The one common theme amongst those who I’m close to is that they are all good people, and have the best intentions. However, as the proverb says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
1. Wasting my abilities chasing my dream(s) without “something to fall back on”.
This one is probably the least important premise, so we’ll get this one out of the way. The phrase “something to fall back on” is something I have heard since I was a kid, especially while I played league basketball. Even amongst parents or relatives. One example is when NBA veteran Mike Bibby left the University of Arizona early to pursue his professional basketball career. Professional athletes in general are often criticized for taken guaranteed money over finishing an education. The common theme of complaints is: “What happens if you get injured or it doesn’t work out? Don’t you want to have something to fall back on?” While this seems like a fairly rational argument, it’s littered with counter examples. Let’s get back to our Bibby example: say he takes an NBA contract with guaranteed money, and on the first day of practice, suffers a career-ending injury. Are you telling me that he still doesn’t have options? Last time I checked, colleges don’t discriminate against age, gender, or if you need handicap accessible parking. And that’s the biggest issue with safety nets: In general, people fail to see the various angles of a situation, both good AND bad. An opposite example is college education itself. It’s generally thought that having a college degree gives you a leg up over the competition over those who don’t have one. Do you see the flaw in this? There’s no mention of what can happen if your ONLY competition is those who possess a college degree. How does this pertain to me? I became a professional golfer in 2006, and had a lot of initial setbacks (the biggest one can be read in my last blog entry). Eight years later, I’m putting in the work to give my dream another shot. Those around me are worried about what will happen if things don’t work out; I’m not worried at all. Which brings us to the next topic.
2. Accusations that I don’t have some sort of detailed plan.
Mike Tyson illustrated it best when he said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Think about this for a moment: When have you had a plan where things worked out EXACTLY the way you had planned? If you answered anything other than, “maybe once or twice,” you either didn’t think hard enough, or you’re delusional. And that’s not to say it’s a bad thing. The universe is too big to care if our plans go according to plan. Now ponder this: How many times have to acted on a plan, it didn’t go as planned, but something wonderful came out of it? I’m willing to wager my lifetime earnings that that scenario happens far more often. A good example from my own experience is with a friend of mine in Flagstaff. When I met her, she was vehemently against an intimate relationship; her plan was to do her own thing. Then she met a guy. Then she realized that she liked this guy. Now she’s in love with the guy. Was it planned? No. Do I know if my plans are going to work out? No. All I, or anyone else for that matter, can do is take a step in a direction and see where it takes us.
3. Having to do things the hard way.
If you ever get a chance, I encourage everyone to read the book The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo. I won’t go into too much detail, but the major theme is how taking your own path in life can be difficult, but can also open your eyes to some incredible situations. In America, compared to other countries, we have it pretty damn good. A path has been blazed for us, and anyone can walk it. Is it easy? Yes, it can be. Does it come with a price of its own? Yes, and your desire to tote that line says a great deal of your tolerance to pay that price. If you’re willing to choke down the bullshit that comes with being a cog in the machine, you can live well in this country. There are others that gave this line the middle finger, and sought out their own way of making their life, something they really enjoy doing. It’s a steep price upfront, takes a lot of work, doesn’t usually have immediate rewards, but if you can persevere, it can make life exponentially more enjoyable. THIS is the path I have chosen to take. Is one better than the other? Of course not. The only difference lies within the values each individual holds. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is.
My journey is still in its infancy, and I have no idea where it will lead. I will continue to do the best I can in every situation, consequences be damned. I leave you with the second half of the proverb quoted above:
“The road to heaven is paved with good actions.”

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