Luke Skywalker. Frodo Baggins. Harry Potter. King Arthur. Neo.
What do these fictional heroes all have in common? They came from humble beginnings, lived a huge portion of their lives in relative obscurity, chanced upon some life-changing event or experience, and then went on to alter the course of history/save the world/galaxy/Middle Earth. You know what else all of these heroes and their stories have in common?
They’re absolute classics and will be read/watched for generations to come.
I love a good underdog story; it’s always fun to root for the guy who doesn’t stand a chance, or the girl who started with nothing and eventually had it all. Why? Because it gives the rest of us hope (and I LOVE hope): if they can do it, and they came from nothing, then maybe we can too.
I was sitting around yesterday and thought to myself, “Practically every video game I’ve ever played has a hero-destiny storyline – Legend of Zelda, ALL of the Final Fantasies, Assassin’s Creed 2, Infamous, and pretty much any RPG. All of the best fantasy books and movies have some sort of prophecy or destiny too. Why can’t I have one too?”
So I made one up for myself.
After today, you will too.
Whether or not this is true is completely irrelevant. If you believe everything happens for a reason, then it will be true. No matter how dire your situation is now, or how poorly things are going in your life, start looking at everything as if it was meant to happen; something greater is around the corner.
Think back to the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandalf and Frodo are walking through the Mines of Moria.
Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.
Sh** happens. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and just moping around all the time, look at those crappy days/weeks/months/years of your life as stepping stones for you to become what you’re meant to be. Without those bad times, you would never get where you’re destined to go.
Let’s think about it for a second:
Here’s my story: I moved to California after graduating college because I always wanted to live on the Pacific and surf. I spent a year and a half doing a job that left me unfulfilled. I eventually gave up “wasting my time” on the West Coast, moved to Atlanta with some college friends and found a new job. After that I started a fitness blog, and here I am!
How I see it instead - I HAD to go to California (where I discovered my passion for fitness), and I had to be unhappy for exactly eighteen months, not one day shorter. On the day I decided to make a change, a friend of mine emailed me from Atlanta. On a whim I started looking for jobs there and my brother (who happened to be home at that exact moment) told me to check Craigslist. I found an post for a company that “chartered music cruises.” I applied for the job and wrote about the Shawshank Redemption, which happened to be the owner’s favorite movie as well, and ended up getting a job. They decided to put me in charge of the company blog, I discovered a passion for writing I didn’t know existed, became inspired and started Nerd Fitness, and now I’m changing people’s lives, getting ready to travel the world, go on awesome adventures, and smiling every single day.
If any of those things didn’t happen, Nerd Fitness might not exist.
Nobody likes to hear about guys and girls born into nobility with every advantage, are charming and good-looking, and then go on to be even more successful. It’s way more fun to hear about the guys and girls who started with nothing, got pushed around, hated on, lived for years and years in horrible conditions but persevered, and then finally hit it big and kicked major ass.
You might be in the sh***y part of your story now.
I don’t care how old you are, how overweight you are, how sh**y your job is, how out of wack your finances are, the fun part of your story just hasn’t happened yet. It is NEVER too late to get started, and no hole is too deep to climb out of. Your calling is right around the corner, so keep your eyes and ears open.
You have a date with destiny, and she doesn’t like to be kept waiting.
Frodo was content living an easy life with Bilbo at Bag End. Arthur was probably one heck of a squire. Neo was a great computer programmer and would have made a very nice life for himself. However, when destiny presented itself, they all responded with action: Frodo decided to take the ring to Mordor. Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. Neo took the red pill.
Change is scary and different. Sometimes though, you just need to say “this is what I’m meant to do” and then go do it.
Characters are sometimes born “The One” and don’t know it, while others had greatness thrust upon due to miraculous outside forces. That matters not. What matters is that when destiny showed up, they went for it. No “I’m not good enough,” or “that’s not for me.” Just “what do I need to do?”
After you create your destiny, it will be your responsibility to put one foot in front of the other and start taking steps towards your epic fate. Find that moment, that catalyst, that spark that will get you started, and then go. Waiting around and complaining about your bad job, unhealthy lifestyle, credit card debt, and/or boring life doesn’t make for a compelling story.
Stop waiting, stop complaining, and start planning - your destiny is there for the taking:
Do SOMETHING today - I’m a firm believer in the power of momentum. Make Optimus Prime proud, and make one tiny change today. Who knows what it could snowball into?
If Frodo could put one foot in front of the other, walking ever closer to Mordor and certain death, you can take one step closer to your destiny (which is hopefully much less grim).
Eventually never happens.
Tomorrow never comes.
Here’s my (slightly embellished) origin story: I was just a humble boy growing up in a sleepy fishing village. I went off to explore the South (college at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN), moved west (San Diego), returned defeated but inspired (Atlanta, GA) discovered that my destiny lay with written words, lifted weights, and a rebellion of underdogs. Since then I’ve embraced my prophecy and have begun building a rebel army. Before my time is done on this planet, I expect to have started a world-wide rebellion, completed my Epic Quest of Awesome, and changed the lives of hundreds of thousands. Not only that, but I want to be the first person ever to die from literally having too much fun, at the ripe old age of 127.
Moral of the story: a humble boy from a sleepy fishing village is going to alter the course of history.
Four years ago, that would have seemed like an absolutely ridiculous statement to me – I was just a kid, fresh out of college, selling construction equipment. I didn’t know/care what a blog was. I didn’t enjoy writing. Now, this epic future I’ve envisioned for myself doesn’t seem so far off. In fact, I’ll be surprised if I don’t accomplish everything I’ve set out to do. After all, it’s my (home-made) destiny, right?
Your turn: What is your origin story? Are you still in the sh**ty part yet, or have you discovered your true destiny? What is it?
Leave your story in the comments, and get creative with it!
PS – by the time you read this, I’ll be out to sea working on Jillian Michael’s Ultimate Wellness Cruise. I return on Monday, and then on Tuesday I head to Peru for 17 days of adventure! Crazy times ahead, and I’m damn excited.