Tuesday, April 12, 2011


"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." -- Zig Ziglar

I believe that everyone should be their own greatest critic and their own greatest supporter. Those who are only one or the other live ineffective caricatures of lives. To be only a critic to yourself is to consign yourself to cynicism and emotionally vacant living. Refusing to nourish their souls, these starving artists waste away gnawing on self-loathing. To be only a supporter to yourself is to glut yourself with cookies, big sweaters, fuzzy slippers and spiritual diabetes. A soul insensitive to insulin, it has overwhelmed itself with saccharine sentiments and can't differentiate between useful help and useless wishes any longer. The spiritually obese and anorexic alike are malnourished.

This is personal experience.

My parents sheltered me from the pain of failure as I grew up. Don't take risks. Hide behind the aprons of big organizations. All you have to do is not make people angry. Tell yourself things to feel good. If something bothers you, don't think about it. And especially don't think about dating pretty girls.

My religious mentors left me with a faulty understanding of Total Depravity. The doctrine proper states merely that we are all with some sin and therefore guilty. The doctrine as I received, it declared every intention malicious, every action blasphemous in every possible way. Stanley can do no good unless it's done in a church-y way.

But the scales are falling from my eyes.

I know who Stanley Lee is. Perhaps not perfectly, perhaps never perfectly, but I know who he is and what he's worth. I know that I'm capable of so much more than what I am now. I can be smarter, stronger, kinder, more generous, more understanding, more disciplined, resolute, wise, audacious, joyful.  And because I know that there's no ceiling to how far I can grow, I am my own fiercest critic. If a Picasso... screw Picasso, I know nothing about painting, if Murakami or Roth told you that they were satisfied teaching Catcher in the Rye in high school until the waters turn to blood and the sky rains fire, if Frank Sinatra was OK with playing Rock Band and watching American Idol, how could you keep from howling with red-eyed rage? If you only could glimpse the grandeur of your own souls, how could you keep from destroying everything you are now?

What I've done in my life thus far pales in comparison to what I will do. If it doesn't, I'm better off dead. If my best years are behind me, then slit my wrists right now. It doesn't matter if I'm 27 or 97 - I refuse to believe that my life can ascend no higher. The critic in me is above all, passionate. Ardor for life inflames me, fans my anger; impatience for the world to come, the world I know I can see.

And yet, with wisdom, I have learned that frustration accomplishes nothing. The audacious words, the braggadocio, it's a life-ring, a buoy to cling on to in a sea of people who feel that my life and my beliefs are an indictment on their choice to watch television and wear sweatpants. It's not. We all make our own choices. I don't have any power beyond that which you give me. You can take it away at any time. It won't make me sad. I believe no one shines their brightest when watching T.V. and wearing sweatpants. The night is long, the sky is dark. If my light can kindle a light within your breast, then I will smile for having done so. Please don't hide your light because shining takes effort, takes work, takes heartache. Throughout my life, I've yearned for the love and support of others. In so many dark moments, I had no one's voice with me, so I had to claw my way out tooth and nail. I don't want that to happen to anyone else. I'll speak life to my own soul and hope that it can reach your soul too.

Motivation doesn't last. People who dwell in pits, who believe that the stars above are of different substance, who sneer and laugh at those who reach out their hands to grasp them, these will gnaw at your legs and snatch at your feet when you climb. Your hands will bruise on the hard rock and some falls will hurt a lot. Motivation doesn't last.

But neither do rocks. The slow flow of water carved out the majesty of the Grand Canyon. The patient work of tree roots opens up the hardest rocks. A motivation that renews itself day after day will wear down all walls and free the light to shine.

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