Guest Post: Michael Cobra // @cobra_mike
I went to the woods…
In the past five years, I've found it increasingly important to look at my personal motivators as my primary source of inspiration.
In that five years, I've gotten married(to my high school sweetheart), had two children and have lost my Mom, brother and a nephew. Not to mention an emergency appendectomy, heart surgery to rid myself of a heart defect and two stays in the cardiology ICU where I was cardioverted (that's where they put the paddles on your chest and yell… CLEAR! You've seen it on TV). I could write a novel about those 5 years. They were very tough to get through. Let's just say I have an amazing wife.
Watching new life blossom, watching life being taken away and watching my own teeter too damn close to the edge, sent me into a whirlwind trying to figure out exactly what I wanted from this life. In that process, I decided that there were two primary things I wanted to inspire and motivate my decisions. Those two things are two men – one of them I used to know and the other I've never met.
The first one is the 18 year old me. That version of me had a mohawk, wore a leather jacket and wanted to take on the world. That version of me had friends that died young and watched people lose themselves to drugs. That version of me had grown up watching his Mom leave an abusive husband and put herself through college so she could stop working three jobs just to put food on the table. That version of me had zero reason to complain. That version of me believed that satisfaction is the death of desire. So, what would he think of the decision I'm about to make? I'd want him to know that his sacrifices and the sacrifices of those around him were not in vain. I think of him when I'm at a crossroads. I think of him when I want to give up. I think of him not because I want to be him again, but because it would be so easy to forget him.
The second man is the 50 year old me. I've never met him and I can't assume what he will think of my decisions. However, when I do meet him I want to know that I didn't take the easiest path to get to him. That I devoured every moment that journey took. I want to impress him. Would he regret this decision? Would he regret that I worked more than slept today? Would he regret that I took some time off work today to spend with my kids? I think of him when my wife and kids hug me goodbye. I think of him when I'm trying to remind myself that life isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. I think of him when I push myself into situations and new territories that scare the hell out of me. I don't know him, but I know the decision I make right now is going to affect him.
Those two men aren't the person I am right now and they inspire me to no end. They make me focus on walking in my own shoes and to forget about what the rest of the world expects or wants. They help me slow down and pay attention. They make me run head on into my fears. They help me get better at being me. These two men are my litmus test to make sure I keep living while I've got the chance.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.