“In order to succeed,
we must first believe that we can.”
– Nikos Kazantzakis
from Los Angeles
Lauv with I Like Me Better
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
Our minds do play tricks on us. Sometimes we stare into the abyss and our mind tells our eyes that we are staring into a black hole and that nothing we do really matters, so why do we even try. Sometimes, our mind throws us a pity party and we sit at home and cry, because things did not work out as planned. Sometimes, and even worse, our mind blames others for all that has gone wrong with our day or our lives. And when this happens, we feel vindicated, giving ourselves a reason to give up.
In China’s Guizhou Province, each morning children rise and prepare for their day at school. My school was shy of a mile away, yet a school bus picked us up every morning and delivered us from pillar to post. But to get to Banpo Elementary School, which is located halfway up a mountain, and winds through some of the most dangerous paths you will ever encounter, literally by scaling the mountainside, with less than 20 inches of a pebble-covered footpath between them and a steep drop-off, the elementary school children of Guizhou Province are motivated to press their bodies against the side of the mountain – hanging on for dear life – in order to get an education in the hope of a better life.
Sometimes, it really is our mind, but it is not acting independently of our self. But to say we are going crazy, sounds much better than we are being lazy or unmotivated, allowing our inert treasure to be suffocated and put to an early death. But it is not that easy, as we all find out, to give up, just because we have lost one or two or three or four bouts. Because even if we decide, that we are through with whatever life was to have us do, our motivation does not die, it lives inside our conscious, and picks away at our pride, one brick at a time.
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery Alabama, an unknown seamstress by the name of Rosa Parks would defy state law, by refusing to give up her seat, which was already in the demeaning ‘colored’ section of the bus, so that another American passenger would not have to stand up. When she refused, the outraged driver told her he would have her arrested, but on that day, Rosa Parks who had paid her fare, after putting in an honest days work, was motivated to not ask, but demand her dignity hold sway. Her defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott that followed was the catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement and equal right for all of us.
Sometimes, there is no insidious or self-destructive plan. Our minds drift along, pondering what we do not have or who we not are and stay a little too long, forsaking reality; the reality of we are who we are and there is nothing at all wrong with who we be. We cannot allow our motivation to take flight, for it is so difficult to get back. It took 15 years before I was motivated to write, and in an instant, our motivation can be shot out of the sky. Life is not a sweet song each and every day. Sometimes the hurdles we are asked to jump may seem to high or the burdens we carry may appear too heavy or the roll of the dice keeps coming up craps or worse, we do not roll the dice in the first place. But even when we feel alone, there are people who are thinking about us and who depend on us to be strong.
You have sons? It is not okay to remain jobless and on the streets using drugs. You took an oath? You no longer own the right to discriminate or judge. You have the gift to write? You have a purpose to deliver a message of inspiration of hope. You are a leader? It is not in your job description to cause further turmoil among the people. Suffocating motivation has a domino effect, leaving more than just our own eyes staring into the abyss.
Perhaps we will not change the world, but we must gain or maintain our motivation to try. If we close our eyes and relax our minds, and understand that each of us are not going to win medals, but look into your son’s eyes when he sees you good or bad, or patrol your neighborhood in search of gaining trust, or listen to the voices of the people who read your words, or comprehend that as a leader, you can unite the people, and maybe then we understand, we are making a difference, which is motivating by itself.