Hello and welcome to my blog–I greatly appreciate your interest and your time. I would highly recommend you start with the pages (my favorite is The Right Mindset…Also Aquafresh), which you can access in the above menu. The most important stuff I could possibly think of posting is right there, so if you’d like to read about my thoughts on productivity and motivation, give it a go. Thank you and welcome once again!
Winter is coming. That’s what Ned Stark said, that’s how it all began. I’ll be frank, I, very simply, do not have the emotional wherewithal to avidly follow Game of Thrones. I literally could not deal with the ups-and-downs of that show. But I know how it began, and I know what that meant, that phrase, that idea–winter is coming.
For those so wretchedly uncultured, the protagonist of the wildly popular HBO show Game of Thrones, Ned Stark, lorded over the land of the North, and his preparation for winter was far more grave than all others–winter hit his land the hardest. As such, when the show begins, winter is fast approaching, and Ned reminds those about him that winter is coming–it is, in fact, the name of Episode 1, Season 1. Winter is coming. It was made very clear, that if you were going to watch Game of Thrones, winter was coming. Hardship, pain, loss, desolation, difficulty, darkness–they were coming, and come they did.
Winter is coming.
Nothing gets me more excited than the coming of winter. Even as I type this, I had to stop, shake my hands out, and crack my knuckles, chuckling as I did. Winter is coming, baby, winter is coming! If you’re new, you don’t yet know how much I love winter–how much I treasure the cold. AHH! I’M SO EXCITED. Check it:
AHH! SO EXCITED!
Look, let me put this on the breakdown for you–everybody can do it when it’s easy. I’ve been working on a new concept that I’m not ready to introduce yet, but the best way to phrase it is by simply saying ‘It isn’t production without consistency. You’re not producing anything until you’re producing consistently.’ And the reason this idea came to mind, the root from which this idea grew, was the idea that everybody can do it when it’s easy, and even more importantly, NOBODY CARES who can do it when it’s easy.
We’re getting to the end of the Cross Country season–the regular season meets are coming to a close, and the elimination meets of Conference, Districts, and States are looming. The regular season meets held no water–record is basically an empty number in high school Cross Country, and the meets meant very little. They weren’t easy–they were buns hard–but they’ll seem like leisurely strolls in beautiful parks when we stack up against the toughest teams we’ve seen on the toughest course we’ll run, several hundreds of people lining the course, 99% of whom are cheering for the guy next to you, who has poured just as much sweat, just as much blood, and just as many tears into this as you have, and all you have going for you is the conviction that you can endure more pain than he can.
It’s hard, and nobody cares if you can do it when it’s easy. Production implies consistency, and consistency means you can do it when it’s easy and when it’s hard.
In the summer, it’s easy. The sun is out, the birds are singing, the sky is blue. There’s no work, there’s no school. Summer is where you do the things you’ve wanted to do, it’s when you do the stuff you didn’t get to do in the winter, when it was cold and harsh and nasty and cold and busy and impossible and cold. Summer’s freedom is the recompense for winter’s inflexibility.
It’s great for things to be easy, that’s nice, don’t get me wrong. But quitting because it’s hard? Allowing your environment to alter your actions? Allowing circumstances to define you? Look, winter is coming whether you like it or not. The question becomes whether or not you’re going to be prepared. That’s what it meant for Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, that’s what it meant! Winter is coming implied preparation, it implied vigilance, it implied game time! Winter is coming, and almost everyone who put in work over the summer is going to fall away. Winter is coming with a biting edge, and she will hew down those in her path who are not prepared and not vigilant. Winter is coming, and you have to make a decision–will you be ready?
Winter is coming, baby! Game time!
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that, even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
- Kurt Vonnegut
It doesn’t get much better than this, it really doesn’t. I mean, there are masters of the English language, and then there are masters of the English language, and then there’s Vonnegut, but this…man, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Be soft. That’s how he starts. Be soft. Simply, with neither pomp nor frill, with no adjective nor adverb, not even an article to muddle the instruction. Be soft, he says. The rest of the quote follows the cadence of ‘Do not let that do this’, but the first one…be soft, he says. Be soft.
Do not let the world make you hard. Be soft, and do not let the world harden you. See, this is a scary idea, it absolutely is. This idea that we have to be soft, when it is undoubtedly so much easier, so much safer, so much more convenient, to be hard. If we’re hard people, we’re protected from the wounds that the world can so easily inflict upon us, the blows it so readily deals. If we’re hard, we can endure the world–but it is those wounds and those blows that force us to be hard, and if we are to not let the world make us hard, we must take those wounds and take those blows, and somehow, in some way, remain soft. Remain genteel. Remain loving.
Do not let the pain make you hate. Oh, how it tugs upon my heart to simply type those letters, how my soul wrenches at the very sight of the sentence. Do not let the pain make you hate. I just see it being read by some fallen man, by some broken and defeated soul speaking to a younger, climactic character…I can just envision the close-up on his haggard face as the fallen man turns to the younger and says ‘do not let the pain make you hate’. It’s terrifying again, and the reason is because ‘do not let the pain make you hate’ implies that one thing is incontrovertibly certain: there will be pain. There will be pain, and if anything engenders hate, if anything instills hate, if anything spawns a vile hatred, it is pain. There will be pain–there WILL be pain–and you have to decide what to do with it. You can hate, or you can, somehow, in some way, love. Respect. Give.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Like a thief in the night, like a burglar in the dead of the evening, do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness away. This line amazes me, because Vonnegut just told us to not be hard and to not be hateful, and now he’s telling us there will be bitterness?! If I live without hardness and without hatred, I’ll be stuck waging a third war against bitterness?! It’s terrifying yet again, because it doesn’t end. In the face of the world, be soft, not hard. In the face of the pain, be loving, not hateful. And now, after all of that, I have to protect whatever sweetness I may possess? In the face of this terrible adversity I have already barely surmounted, I have to, somehow, in some way, defend my sweetness from the bitterness? Ward off the pervasive dogs of unhappiness? Guard my tender flame of hope from the blistering winds of pessimism?
Take pride that, even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
Look, I’m going to need you to be brave. I’m going to level with you right now, if you intend on doing it right, if you intend on living your life the best way possible, if you intend on accomplishing what you would like to accomplish, I’m going to need bravery. I’m going to need you to be courageous, to be audacious, to be dauntless. We quickly realized it up there, where we learned that we could not steel ourselves from life’s blows, but instead had to remain soft, and take the pain. And we learned about that pain! We learned that we could not allow ourselves to let that pain turn into hatred, but instead we had to accept the pain and learn to love through it. We learned that what little love, what little sweetness we had, we had to protect from the bitterness that would follow us no matter what goals we achieved. There was one big, umbrella idea that we simply could not ignore:
It’s terrifying out there. It’s freaking terrifying.
There will be blows. There will be pain. There will be adversity. You’re here, in this world, and there will be blows, there will be pain, and there will be adversity. The question, as always, is what are you going to do? What are you going to be? Because you have two options–you can be afraid, or you can be brave. It’s scary out there, and you can either be scared, or you can fight that, and you fight fear with courage, you fight trepidation with audacity, and you fight the terrors with bald-faced bravery.
That’s what makes the world a beautiful place–not the fact that it’s terrifying, as most people would believe…but the fact that you can fight it, as we know.
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
- Cyril Connolly
He wasn’t built, but he was angular–instead of muscular, sharp. His pointed ears pulled back onto his high temples, his black, beady, glinting eyes set deep into his large, slightly wrinkled face over a broad, pointed nose. His salt-and-pepper hair was long, gelled off of his expressive forehead. His lanky arms rustled listlessly by his side, his bony fingers ever-shifting by one another, as if tugging on the strings of the wind, pulling the breeze this way and that. He tilted his head slightly as I approached, his dark eyes gleaming with malice, his tongue darting over his thin, pale lips as they parted into a lopsided grin.
Oh, that grin.
It was a predatory grin; a wolfish smirk that crossed his face. Impossibly white teeth flashed menacingly as that coy, knowing grin wrinkled his already-weathered cheeks. His nose leapt imperceptibly as he sniffed quickly, as if just now catching the scent of my fear on the rising wind. At the whiff, his bottomless eyes jumped to mine again–a paralyzing leer. He was a predator and I was the prey, he was a wolf and I was a lame deer, limping my way through his territory without the faintest hope of survival. He was an alpha male, a seasoned hunter–a flawless killer.
And that knowing grin never left his face.
I’ve established an official Benjamin Solak Twitter account, so that anyone reading this blog who does not have a WordPress account (should get one) can follow my account on Twitter and receive notifications every time I update! You can follow from the little Twitter Widget you’ll find on the right hand side of your screen, closer to the bottom–if it is evading you, you can find the account here:
What time? Game time.
I think the easiest thing to do in the world is get ready. I mean, lounging around, doing nothing…that’s easier, but the easiest thing to do? Get ready. The easiest thing to do in the entire world is to get ready.
Think about how much time you spend getting ready? I don’t know about you, but I’ll tell someone ‘Oh yeah, I’ll be ready in like, 5 minutes’, and 20 minutes later I’m actually ready to go. It feels like all we do is spend time getting prepared for action, getting prepped for performance, getting ready to go. And don’t get me wrong, preparation is important, but there’s a time for preparation, and more often than not, the time for preparation has passed.
What time? Game time.
And you’re talking to a cross country runner: if I have a race at 4 PM on a Tuesday, I start my preparation process on Sunday night–I realize how critical preparation is, I value good preparation However, just with this blog post, I spent over an hour doing other things while I ‘got ready’ to write it! There’s a difference between actual preparation and just planning, there’s a difference between getting ready and procrastination. I think we convince ourselves that we’re getting ready when we’re just wasting time, I think we fool ourselves into thinking we’re prepping when really we’re just stalling. And there isn’t any time for that anymore.
What time? Game time.
The concept is simple: it’s game time. And you’ll notice I didn’t put barriers on game time, I didn’t give it a time frame or a window or an expiration date–quite simply, it is game time. I know two things, only two things, and by knowing these two things, I know it’s game time.
I know that I have this moment, and I know that I have the tools. I know that I have this moment, and that I have the tools. That’s what makes it game time.
Fact of the matter is, I don’t have tomorrow. It’s a scary idea, but tomorrow isn’t set in stone for me, and if I want to accomplish something, I know that I have to go out and accomplish it now, I have to do it today, because I may not have tomorrow. Tomorrow, there may be a natural disaster or a family emergency or an apocalypse or I might die. I might not have tomorrow, but I have this moment, so if I want to accomplish something, then it is game time. Time is a commodity people, what do we say, time is a commodity and it is game time! If you want it, then let’s go get it.
Secondly, game time implies equipment. Maybe I understand the idea that I don’t have tomorrow, but if I don’t have any of the equipment, any of the tools I need for game time, than I better hope I have tomorrow, cause it ain’t game time today. In order for it to be game time, time for me to produce, time for me to accomplish, I need the tools that allow me to do so.
Fortunately, you and I both have them, 24/7
You see, I’m telling you it’s game time, and I don’t even know what it is you want to accomplish! Yet somehow, I know you have the tools, because the tools are universal and congenital–every has them, and they’ve had ‘em since birth. You need discipline, you need integrity, you need passion, you need determination, you need fight–to the man with desire and with dedication, nothing can be impossible. And even though someone may have these tools in a higher quantity or quality than you do, that’s okay. That means you just need to sharpen those tools, and if you need to sharpen those tools, then guess what? It’s game time.
What time? Game time.
I’m sick and tired of thinking about when I will get better. I don’t want to have to spend time today thinking about the ways I’ll improve tomorrow. I know what I’m supposed to do, I know what I’ve been commissioned to accomplish, I know what goals I seek. It’s game time, and I’m not sleeping; it’s game time, and I’m not resting; it’s game time, and I’m not getting ready, I’m going. It’s game time, and I’ve got work to do.
What time, ladies and gentlemen–what time?
What a crazy past couple of weeks–mandatory practices for Cross Country began, as well as my final year of band camp. I’ve been extraordinarily busy, and as such, quite neglectful. I apologize.
But, with resounding cheer, I return! As my senior year begins, I will undoubtedly have far more time to update–I look forward to this, and I hope you do as well. For now, I will leave you with something I introduced before, but absolutely requires reiteration:
The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.
– Mia Hamm
Fight on, shall we?