Have you ever been all-in on something for a little while and then you just kind of lose steam?
Have you ever admired or wondered how some people have this incredible fuel that keeps them going for what seems like forever?
There is a reason for that.
Not every task or purpose in life will require this, but the ones that matter, the only things that will have any chance of being talked about after you’re gone, those things will require this.
What is “this”?
“This” I am talking about is something very deep inside you. Deep below your perceived purpose and character, there are experiences, there are words spoken to you, there are questions, there are thoughts and memories that move you.
You have to know what moves you. What stirs your spirit?
You see, the longer the race the more necessary it is that you have this required fuel.
Short efforts beg no question, but true endurance needs a reason, and the defining pursuits of your life will not be a sprint.
It's just like in our muscles. They can snap into action quickly with high effort, as long as they are burning glucose, the energy already store there.
But once you run out of glucose, there is a PROCESS required to create more energy.
Our brains are the same way.
You get a new job, show up and give it all you got for two weeks, but then you’ve burned all your mental “glucose” and now what? The effort dies and you’re tired of this job, this task, that you were once so motivated about.
Our bodies, our brains, and our spirit, all have these two types of energy: Surface-Level sprint energy and deep, deep endurance energy.
Let me quickly piece together for you a few of the things that stir my spirit, and how it has carried me on my journey so far.
Maybe it will help you find what stirs your spirit. Or just skip to the bottom if you don’t want the backstory and you want the 30-second lesson.
February 1, 2003
Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during atmospheric entry, killing all seven crew members
I had been outside working with my dad just west of Dallas, it was still early in the morning. As we had been driving out to do the work that day the local radio had told us that from where we were, that for the planned re-entry starting around 8:45, we would be able to see the Space Shuttle Columbia coming back from outer space. We did see it that morning, we had a clear picture as the Columbia broke up into thousands of pieces directly overhead and the crew of 7 was lost.
For context, remember that 9/11 was about a year and a half before this. I was eleven years old at that time, and now twelve years old as Columbia was lost.
These two events combined in my brain got me thinking at a young age about mortality, the value of a life, the purpose of a death.
The Columbia specifically so inspired me about space travel, just thinking how plain it seemed at first but in actuality how truly spectacular it was that these men and women had completely left our planet. I learned about the dedication it took to become an astronaut and incredibly difficult it was.
Fast forward a little bit to 2007. I was always at least a half-nerd, and I never missed an issue of Pop Sci. I will never forget this specific article https://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-space/article/2007-06/high-dive/ from Pop Sci in 2007. (By the way how awesome is the internet that it only took me 3 minutes to go back and find this magazine article from 2007 that helped lead me to a pivotal decision in my life, though it is missing a bunch of the other pictures that were in the magazine) The article references Columbia and it is about changing the way potentially that astronauts would return from outer space from returning in a space shuttle to returning through a skydive in a special spacesuit. The major driving theme is that its easier to pre-flight check a space suit than an entire space shuttle.
Anyhow, this may be boring to some of you, but this article got me obsessed with this concept high altitude skydiving/space re-entry.
That obsession led me to Joseph Kittinger, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kittinger, who, in 1960, in the Airforce, leaped from a weather balloon at 102, 800 feet. Here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MkB6NkQscI is the exact video I watched over and over of that leap. It’s still on youtube 13 years later. I remember the music.
From there, I saw a suggestion to watch the BUD/s class 234 documentary, which I have linked before, but here it is again https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0fDLgiYQjo&t=3s. And the rest is history.
SKIP TO HERE
What’s the point? So I watched some videos and read some magazine articles, cool. It's not so much about the significance of those things, and those are all significant pieces of history, but the point is the way they moved me. I was so inspired by the Columbian Shuttle crew, by Joseph Kittinger jumping from outer space, and by Edmund Hillary who I didn’t mention but as the first man to climb Everest was also a giant in my mind. The common denominator in all these stories being these people who were driven to do something that had never been done before or done very few times. The dedication they gave to it, risking, and in some cases giving, their lives in the pursuit of something great.
I took this thing that so moved me, I found what I wanted to accomplish, and I made them one in my mind. I attached what stirred my spirit in the stories I mentioned to the story for myself I was writing.
This is just a piece of the puzzle, there were and are other things that move me and other things that have helped shape and lead me to where I am today, but the takeaway is:
You have to know what moves you.