I came across this a few weeks ago while I was looking up historical stuff. I don’t really remember what in particular I was looking for, but it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that it led me to this awesome quote! ;) If, after reading it, you’re wondering why I didn’t write about it sooner, all I have to say is that it impacted me so much that I didn’t know what TO write. Anyway, here’s that quote:
“When ancient Greek armies traveled across the sea to do battle, the first thing they would do after landing was to burn the boats, leaving them stranded. With no way to make it home besides victory, the resolve of the soldiers was strengthened. When success and failure are the only options, you have no choice but to follow through.”
If you read my last blog entry, “Why I LOVE Science-Fiction“, you’ll remember me mentioning how metaphors are pretty important in sci-fi. Well, metaphors can also be important in our reality when applied to our day-to-day existence and the choices we make in a sort of existentialist way. Still skeptical? Well how about we use the previous quote to practice this?
Let’s pretend for a moment that you are an ancient Greek soldier. It’s been a pretty long boat ride… Some guys got seasick, and you probably miss your family a lot, but you can’t spend time thinking about that! You’ve got a battle to fight! So you hop off the boat and look out into the distance. You can see clearly that there’s an army over there. They’ve probably been thinking up ways to kick your ass back to Greece for a very long time AND they’ve got 3 times the soldiers, more supplies, and better weapons, although you’d never admit that because YOU are a PROUD Greek soldier. Suddenly, you’re overwhelmed by fears. Self-defeating statements start to flow through your mind, damaging your resolve. “Oh no… I’m gonna die and I’ll never see my family again!” or “They have so many advantages, how could we possibly defeat them?!”
Now, THIS is the moment that really makes the quote relevant. It’s also probably the exact reason why they started burning the boats! hahaha Metaphorically speaking, “victory” represents your biggest aspirations; everything you’ve never done and always wanted to do. Victory can only be achieved by defeating the army that stands before you. That army represents every obstacle that you must overcome to reach your goals. The boats behind you are the things that you KNOW you can do, but also where your fears lead you, away from your dreams. One of the most powerful deterrents to reaching any goal in this world is FEAR. Fear causes us to lose faith in ourselves and look backward in the moment that could solidify our victory. If you want to fight your hardest, you must BURN THE BOATS, face your enemy, and charge forward! After all, the only situation in which you are absolutely guaranteed to die is when you’ve got your back to them. No matter the numbers, no matter the weapons or the resources, our greatest power comes from within, during those moments that challenge us to overcome anything that stands in our way.
So, do you see what I mean? Reading the quote now, you might even relate to it differently. I hope that it inspires you so much that you jump out of your chair and run out into the sunset to chase down your dreams! Actually, no, I’d like you to finish reading the rest first… THEN you can go do that! When you reach your dreams, tell them Tommy Maverick sent you! ;)
Something I’ve experienced first-hand is that there are times when we can feel so mistreated by the world that we have trouble lifting ourselves and others up. That’s what inspiration is, after all; that upward force that keeps us standing tall (sometimes flying) and moving forward! If you’re currently having trouble staying motivated because of negative circumstances in your life, please take THIS away from this blog entry. NOTHING stays bad forever.
The way I see it, the world is a self-regulating system that works on a principle of balance between chaos and order. Each era demands a new point along the spectrum, and as time goes on, we experience the world from the perspective of that ever-changing point. We’re really just going along for the ride, so let’s do our best to understand two things:
- That the world will continue to seek balance.
- That in balance lies prosperity and peace.
It might sound really hippie-ish to you, but that’s okay… I’m not trying to preach anything or get too spiritual but it’s recently become a habit. haha What I find interesting about this belief of mine is that it’s actually something that I adapted from a scientific property of systems called “Homeostasis“. I spend a lot of time looking within which often leads me to apply concepts I’ve learned in life toward improving my spiritual self, much in the same manner as I demonstrated with quotes. I believe that the strength of a person’s resolve comes from both their mind AND their spirit, and so I do my best to empower both. The stronger a person’s resolve, the better their chances are of making their dreams come true.
I’m writing about dreams now, so I guess I can take this opportunity to talk about my own. MY dreams are basically to write for a living and make music that’s worth listening to. A few specific actions I plan to take in order to fulfill my dreams are to keep up this blog, write a quality novel as well as many short stories, and audition for X-Factor. There’s a lot more I can do and also many different paths to the same end. When it comes to overcoming our obstacles, we must look for the best way to do so, even if it requires trial and error. We must also realize that true failure only exists when we allow ourselves to give up. I’m going to do everything I can to work toward a future where my writing is on “shelves” and people all around the world listen to my music. I put shelves in quotation marks because I don’t know how much longer books will retain their physical form. Entire bookstore chains are closing down and public libraries are losing more and more funding each year. I guess that I’ll just have to get a Kindle or something down the line and give up the dreams of a really awesome overflowing bookcase. Wait… I can’t give up on my dreams!
I’LL JUST HAVE TO HAVE BOTH!
There are definitely times when I worry that my expressions (my writing and music) are not valid or valuable in the eyes of others. I try my hardest to reject that entire mindset, but even after burning the boats, fears still remain that try to grab a hold of me and drag me under. My trick is to treat fear as if it’s another obstacle to overcome.
I’d also like to say that I’ve noticed that many people are scared to create their own path to success or to succeed by their own standards. Truthfully, there’s never only one road anywhere. It seems that too many people want to succeed in the eyes of others and by their standards. I personally feel that doing so is an abdication of our power over ourselves and our circumstances. In America for example, we’re constantly told that the only way to become “successful” is to get a good job and that the only way to get a good job is to go to college. Supposedly, after you do that, you can get the job like magic. What I have observed (and seen proven by statistics) is that a lot of people still have trouble finding a “real” job after they complete their undergraduate studies. That’s FOUR YEARS of college. This means that they have to apply for college again, become a graduate student, and spend two MORE years without that “really good job” just so they can have better chances at a job they probably could have handled anyway… It always seemed INSANE to me when I was in high school that people would put themselves through something like that… SIX years of college loans and schoolwork just for a CHANCE at a “good” job? It seemed even crazier once I became a part of it. I’ve never really been one to do what fails to fulfill me on every level, so when I realized that college didn’t fulfill me, I decided to find success by taking another road; one that was a little bit more MY STYLE. Some people might call me a “college dropout”, but I think that I’m just doing things MY WAY and I have DEFINITELY burned the boats. Using my classmates from High Tech High International’s class of 2010 as a barometer of my progress, I am currently halfway through the 2nd year of my chosen path. My goal is to achieve “success” on my own terms by the time they complete their undergraduate studies. I have not, however, given up on learning. I challenge myself to continue expanding my mind as much as possible. I learn at my own pace for the sake of knowledge; not for a piece of paper that fallaciously proves I am worthy of a job.
I believe that taking the road less traveled is something that a lot more people should do. Maybe not always with choices that have such a profound impact on the course of their life, but more with the smaller decisions of life and during the creative process. It might be a longer and more curvaceous road than the one everyone else is on, and might not be as nicely paved, but at least there’s no traffic :)
We have reached the end of this entry :) And here I was thinking this was going to be a short post! If you have any thoughts you’d like to add, post a comment down below or directly onto my Facebook Page’s wall. Thank you! :)
– Tommy Maverick