(Repost from December 12, 2014)
I added up the change on my countertop and it came up to about 3 dollars, give or take. Payday wasn’t until the next day which usually didn’t hit the bank account till 2am. It was about two months into my stay in my first apt in chicago (a shitty garden apt). It could be worse, but I overspent that week and was hungry. Funny how we get creative when we are lacking a basic need... I remembered I had a collection of currency in a folder in the corner of the room. I’m thumbing through the mostly dead currencies and I find a 20 Pound note!! JACKPOT!!! It was getting late so I rushed to a currency exchange to get some USD (probably at a terrible exchange rate). I went from 0 to about 30 USD in a matter of 25 panicked minutes. At this point I was on a string of poor decision making and wasn’t in any state of mind to break the rhythm. I went into a 7-eleven and bought a sandwich, a protein bar, a bottle of vodka (pretty sure it was absolut, because I just got PAAAAID, haha), and a jar of green olives to keep it classy.
I get back to the apartment and am somewhat content with my hunting and gathering “skills” at this point but wildly unfulfilled with my path. I’m not happy. I’m confused. I’m not exercising, my spirits are low and I don’t have that “bounce back” feeling. I don’t know where my career is headed or if I chose the “right” job. I have shelter but I’m not impressed with my living situation - hot water goes in and out and the less-than-honest landlord was about 2 miles off with his estimate of the laundromat being “just around the corner”... I’m taking last minute trips dragging suitcases packed with dirty laundry through snow to the bus to get to the Sudz Laundromat on Ashland Ave and the only good friend I had in the city at the time left to start his MBA in Hong Kong. I can’t move back to St. Louis... not yet. Hell, I just got here....
So there I am in my “funkness” watching TV. I come across what looks like a boxing match but turns out to be just a promotion for an upcoming Oscar de la Hoya fight. I slowly shift my attention from the fact that this is not an actual fight and start to admire the work these guys are putting in. They are pushing so hard for this fight, for this dream. You could see in the interviews their laser-sharp focus. They were committed and it showed in how they trained like nothing else mattered. They were living with a purpose. It all hit me at once. Some kind of spark. I stood up off the couch and yelled “you gotta create this shit, MFer!!!!” Now, why the harsh words? Well, I was FURIOUS. I was mad and I was ready to get up and start making moves, because in that moment it became clear to me that I would have to create a new life for myself. I knew it would be hard work and it wouldn’t happen over night but it was possible if I only embraced the challenge.
A rush of ideas and thoughts came to me. I was reminded of a time when I had far less money but I was much more content. I was going to college in St. Louis staying in the dorms and spent a ton of time on MetroLink train to Muay Thai training downtown and to the Mexican restaurant where I waited tables with three close friends. I was studying calculus, asian philosophy, and advanced spanish while riding the train, and had a steady girlfriend during this time. I barely had money to pay for kickboxing, if at all, but this was a *fulfilling* time for me. How can I get back to that? How can I CREATE a situation that is fulfilling to me again?
For the next 4-5 months, every time I became uncertain or overwhelmed I said to myself and often times out loud “back to the basics, back to the basics, back to the basics”. This may sound silly to you. It sounds silly to *me*, but I think this type of thinking had a tremendous effect on my ability to focus on that moment. That thing right there in front of me and nothing else. It reminded me that I had work that had to be done and this state of mind put me back in the driver seat. Doubts would creep in.. “But what if”... Doesn’t matter! Back to the basics.
It would take some work to get down to the fundamentals but this was necessary if I wanted to build a strong foundation.
And here I am, 5 years later, I finish my MBA, leave my job, and I’m getting ready to head to South America during the bitter cold winter months in Chicago. What’s next? Well...
Back to the basics. Back to the basics. Back to the basics.