You grab the edge of the Band-Aide, peel up the corner, ready to pull, and you stop—there is a flash of hesitation and fear—you know it’s going to hurt no matter how you remove it, that you can slowly peel it back and hope the pain is reduced, spread out over time and thus dulled; or the alternative, rip it off full-force, no hesitation, with a strong and severe rush of sensation that hits all at once, but fades almost as quickly.
What do you do?
You approach the edge of the pool, enjoying your vacation, ready to cool off and relax. You stick the tip of your toe into the clear blue water, and feel that it is far colder than you had expected. You were ready to jump in, until you felt that cold, and then, there was that falter—you know it’s going to be uncomfortable no matter how you get in, that you can slowly submerse your body inch by inch, trying to acclimate to the cold, gritting your teeth, chattering, and shivering; or instead, you can dive in, feel the pin pricks cover your entire body from head to foot, feel the pain of frozen flesh, all hitting at once, but fading almost as quickly.
What do you do?
This is the un-fun decision. Life is full of un-fun decisions. Most people try hard to never face them. But they seem to follow us, like it or not.
A change in careers—un-fun decision. Focusing on your health after decades of neglect—un-fun decision. Pulling up your roots and moving cross country—un-fun decision. Walking away from a family member, a loved one, a friend, because you know you are enabling, you know they are halting forward progression, you know rationally you are a better person than their presence permits—un-fun decision.
Most of the time, we try to compromise. “Okay, next time… one more time… one more chance… next week… next year… if it happens again….” And we let it continue, and perpetuate, and drag us down. The fear of the momentary sensation, the ripped Band-Aide and cold water pinpricks, halts our limbs from moving in the fashion our rational faculty dictates is proper.
But you can override this, with a strong enough command center. It has to be final, and principled. Approximations and half-ways do not resolve problems. The Band-Aide must be pulled quickly, and diving head-first is always better.
I’m a firm believer in burning bridges and not allowing the capacity to mend, if and when one has gathered sufficient evidence that the other side of the bridge is best. They say “the grass is always greener”, as if waffling back and forth between two options like a confused puppy dog torn between inside and outside was any way to go about life. The puppy continues to repeat its cycle of spur-of-the-moment whimsical nowhere-going. Hopefully, you do not, and instead learn from your encounters and paths walked.
Like many clichés, the “grass-is-greener” bromide is based on an illusion or half-truth. The grass is never greener, at least in a patch that has been burnt to a cinder. Then, it’s just blackened ash-earth. If the bridge is burned, one cannot be tempted to cross back over; one is forced not to repeat tracks and trails that have already been pursued and proven useless and impractical. Rather, one must move forward, linear, straight, towards a new region.
Let the bridges behind you burn and fall to the ground, in search of truly ever-greener grasses. The trail of smoke and dust will be a reminder of a path chosen, pursued, and committed to. It will not erase all sensation of pain, but it will allow the transition to truly greener, and ever-improving, pastures.
Sometimes, ripping that Band-Aide off is a stroll through hell. In Greek mythology, Orpheus traveled through the underworld to pursue his lost wife, Eurydice. Hades agreed to give Orpheus and Eurydice a second chance, this one time, allowing them both to return to the land of the living on the condition that he lead her out without ever looking back.
Orpheus began his journey, literally marching through hell in order to recover the love of his life, in order to reach that truly greener pasture. He could have sprinted; he could have thrown each and every ounce of energy into his march.
Instead, he questioned himself—the doubt crept in—and he grew fearful. He knew rationally not to look back, to instead rely on Hades’ word. He knew he had all the evidence he was going to get. But standing on principle and not looking back was an un-fun decision. It proved too much—he looked back—and he saw his wife, Eurydice, standing there for a moment before being pulled back into the underworld for eternity.
They did not make it to a greener pasture. On his march, Orpheus did not burn the bridge leading back into hell. And as such, his wife returned to the charred and ashen ground of her past—a pasture far less green.
There comes a point where you must commit, pull the trigger and decide on a route, a course of action, no matter how painful. The only question is how you will face that pain. Will you let it infuse your soul all at once, hit you like a ton of bricks, wash over your person—and then fade? Or, will you suffer it over and over again, making the same mistakes, letting fear of the un-fun decision rule your life?
I am striding toward truly greener pastures, and leaving no bridges for a possible return. Let the trail of smoke remind me of where I’ve been.
-David A. Johnston
David Johnston is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within. You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( GEARDUp.com ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.
David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.