This was the last blog post I wrote before starting a new new job as the Editor of Geektime.com - the largest tech blog in Israel - some 3 years or so ago. My first day, on the train ride over to work, I started working on Wave Mandate in earnest using nothing but my smart phone (a Motorola Defy, no less) and about 6 months ago I left that job to pursue writing full time... Authors are nuts.
We use the expression to describe the unexpected positive effect of a jaring, often inches away from catestrophic experience; a near fatal car accident; a terrifying mugging; a life threatening illness -
When a person walks away from these near misses, you don’t usually hear them say: “Oh well, you know how Mondays can be.”
What you do often hear (with time enough to reflect) is: “It was a wake-up call. It changed my life.”
And it makes sense.
There’s so much about this awesome (the literal meaning, not the cool one), beautiful and sometimes scary life that we take for granted. We need to Wake Up!
Fortunately, there’s another way to get back our perspective, which doesn't involve drinking gallons of Wakeup juice in the form of one giant harrowing close call. It’s more like buying the box-drink fun-pack.
It’s called Fighting.
For the past two years I had been working on my own startup. I had very little funding, even less experience, and I had to bite, claw, scratch, and worst of all, often sit on my hands, just to get it to a functioning beta.
During this time I had next to 0 income. This was cool and all in the beginning because in my mind, I was a hi-tech entrepreneur, and cool entrepreneurs have no money. My wife had a slightly different perspective:
As time dragged on, bills mounted and it became less and less cool. In fact it became very un-cool. It's difficult to convey the feeling a man has when he can’t support his family for an extended period of time but the word 'Failure' comes to mind.
(Actually that wasn't too difficult was it?...Huh.)
The whole time I had to keep telling myself that success is right around the corner. That I was doing everything I could be doing to try and make it work. That G-d up above was watching out for me and just like I made it through last week and the week before that, somehow He’d get me through this week and the one after.
My top priorities were to be a good Jew, a good husband and a good father, and I knew I was acing these (Props to me, up high!).
It was just the obligation to support these things that I was utterly failing, or as I kept telling myself, 'not yet succeeding in.'
My family was very supportive, and the whole venture would have been a nonstarter without that. But as a started venture, the thing that gave life to the intellectual knowledge that I was acing the main elements of my life (G-d, family etc.). The thing that kept me sane - was fighting.
I remember once having one of those days. You know those days, where nothing is going right? Malaise doesn't quite capture the essence of the feeling. I think the word I’m looking for is, Blah.
I felt really, really Blah.
Later that day I was sparring in my martial arts class and my mind was everywhere else except for where it should be. Suddenly, my partner/opponent popped me one, right in the face. When we go with no equipment, the body’s pretty fair game for all kinds of power shots but we’re very, very controlled with shots to the face. My partner apologized afterward, but I was ecstatic, and I told him there was nothing to apologize for. In fact, I should have be thanking him.
In that moment, when my head snapped back from the hit, I could almost see all the worries, doubts, regrets and disappointments of the day getting knocked out of my mind and dissolving into the nothingness that they truly were. All the junk and baggage fell away, and I was able to see and feel what lay beneath:
Exhilarating life, filled with the possibility of feeling anything, of achieving anything, of overcoming anything and of becoming anything.
But also a delicate life, that can be threatened, that can be taken away, and - as the beautiful primal shock and pain of that hit woke me up to again – that WILL be taken away, eventually.
Even if you’re not a martial artist and you have no plans of becoming one – cool; I still strongly recommend, whenever you’re getting down on yourself, go a few rounds beating your mattress, find something heavy and slam it around in the backyard, or even just shadow box vigorously in front of the mirror – but somehow, don the fighting spirit, even if only for a short while. You’d be surprised how pleasant 'perspective' is when it returns to you.
I recently landed an awesome job, thank G-d. As opposed to other jobs that I applied for where I figured this would be my motivational desk ornament, at least for the beginning:
This one I’m confident I can actually do better than most – and I like it.
But I’ll never forget how G-d watched over me, my family supported and how fighting nourished me throughout the entire process.