I was listening to Dr. Chris Ryan’s podcast Tangentially Speaking. Well, really the subset of that podcast called TOMA (Talking Out My Ass) where he describes his autobiographic journey in his young adulthood that led him down the path of who is today. It is a series of linked adventures over a period of several years told in individual podcasts over 18 months. The whole thing is interesting as you peel back the life of someone different than you. What I found most interesting in the tale was an event that perhaps pivoted his whole life.
This won’t do it justice, so if you’re interested in hearing the full tale, check out Episode 13. After saving up a bunch of money ($15,000 or so), Chris sets out to travel the world and to journey into himself as the jumping off point of his life. He was 27 or 28 at the time, and has already had some minor adventures, but this was to be his crucible as he journeyed to find his path. After saying goodbye to all his friends in the late-ish 1980’s he set off for India as his starting point. He settled in for some period of time in a short term rooming house for $2 a night with tinfoil locks that could be picked with a key. As such, thieves would break into people’s room at night and see what they could find. Having heard this, Ryan kept his money pouch (with his passport, $12,000 U.S. cash, and $3,000 travelers checks) under his pillow. So he made it through this period without being robbed, and bought a train ticket to his next destination (New Delhi perhaps?). Being very nervous about this tripped, he set his alarm to wake up very early on his departure morning. In the scuttlebutt that was nerves and packing up and getting out to a new destination, he hurried through his routine and made his way to the train station. It wasn’t until he was literally sweating from his neck and feeling down his body, did he realize he forgot his moneybelt under his pilllow. Oh Fuck!
Sick with worry, he rushed back to the rooming house. Rushing past the desk manager, he made his way up to his old room. He found it already occupied and and the new people in the room would not let him in. Hanging his head with tail between his legs, he made his way back down to the front desk. He asked the manager (a Sikh) if he could get in his room. “Sorry, already rented out.” was the response. Well, did they find anything when they turned the room? was Ryan’s first question. “Why, did you lose something?” was the roomkeeper’s response. Chris then initially responded with a simple ‘papers’ response. “What sort of papers?”. His passport was the answer. The roomkeeper, with mirth in his eyes, responded “Oh dear! A Passport is very important! Was there anything else?” Feeling he was being tested. By this man. By the Universe. or By Life. He didn’t know. And not seeing any other option, he came clean, ‘turning over his stomach like a puppy’ and told the owner the full amount of money he left behind so casually. After telling him how rich he was ($15k could buy several businesses, like the one Mr. Ryan was living in), the owner told him the cleaning boy found it and turned it in. You’ll have to listen to hear the final conclusion and the emotions that he went through, and the kindness of the unknown stranger.
Suffice to say, 30 years later, Dr. Ryan was reflecting on how his life was somewhat, or largely, determined by that pivot point. What if he came back and his money was gone. Poof! What would he have done? How would his entire life have pivoted to a different outcome? And that’s where I’m going today…
When I reflect on my own life, there are a number of pivot points that looking back define my current life. Choosing traditional college over a Navy ROTC version. A college change, and later a Major change. Deciding to go all in with my now wife (when I was moving across the country for my first job, she wasn’t convinced we should stay together). Deciding to work towards the Ironman triathlon. Even deciding to get a vasectomy probably hinged my life in one way versus where it is now.
So I ask myself, and ask you: what is the next pivot point? What are you working towards, or what actions are you doing that are creating the next big thing in your life? Are you behaving in damaging or self-destructive ways – trying to advance your career with happy hours and social events that may get out of hand? If so, please keep things in check and cut off the alcohol before you need to drive. Or are you swinging the bat and trying new things? Coaching your kids. Trying BJJ. Volunteering. Meditating. Getting your hunting license? Starting a business? A million ways to fabricate a new pivot point in your life, one that takes you to new places that are wonderful.
Your life is not static. Your future is not defined. Do you want to live your life with the world acting upon you, or do you want to influence your will upon the world? That is ultimately what we must all decide. Most sheeple take it as fact that they simply react to the world and thus swim against the current. There are others who embrace their true spirit and the universe, and know that life is dynamic and positive pivot points happen all the time. It starts out with: A) Defining what you truly want (happiness, abundance, and love are usually the start), then B) Being honest with yourself and finding your true soul calling and then C) Define your big picture goal(s) and take small steps that help you walk the path. Let’s say you define (A) – but your path to (B) and (C) may not be known. If that’s the case, just start moving anyways. Your pivot points that define who you will find you when you’re ready, and hmmm… it’s funny, they only seem to find you when you are moving. Never static. Moving.
Don’t be afraid to fight against those in your way. That’s the final lesson today. The status quo is easy. Being lazy is easy. To make the next pivot point that improves your life, or the lives of those you touch, you need to fight against the establishment. Unfortunately, your life is not going to grow without pain in some way. Pain is simply going outside your comfort zone.
I am fighting. I am meeting with state legislators. I am starting rolling BJJ again. I am writing. I am feeling the life energy and finding happiness. I am fighting against the fun police who want me to be a corporate soldier for the Company Store. And you should fight too. Like fighting against those who don’t want you to surf, bro.
So find your next pivot point by kicking some ass, trying something new, and trusting that Bhodi will come to your rescue when you’re in over your head.