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Proving Myself

Upon my return home for a quick, and all too brief, reprieve from the suffocating challenges of my adult life, I was graciously informed by my Father that, upon reaching a certain age and financial milestone, he will gift me our family estate. Although in the past my confidence has wavered or altogether vacated me when faced with the undertakings of manhood, this news invigorated my passion and zest for life. After travelling the world and becoming indoctrinated into the Order of Magellan, I've realized how insignificant we all are. I, along with my brothers and sisters, have circumvented the globe, yet each port and experience within them has awakened me to the fact that I know nothing. While I plan to travel and search our world of my own accord and at my own methodical, contemplative pace, I need a sense of home. While I've come to accept that Ill always be stricken with a sense of wanderlust, a fervent hunger that will forever be unsatiated, I need a place to hang my hat, a home. What better place then my own childhood house? Plans have been drawn and Ive acted as my own personal cartographer, crafting maps that will allow me to reach my goals, specifically regarding the acquisition of our castle. But still, the same question plagues me unerringly: Am I worthy?

I had always been vaguely aware that I was discontent with certain aspects of myself. Before these ghostly whispers manifested into prominence in my late teens, I unconsciously followed the beginnings of a path that I, and only I alone, could travel. As a child I was uncoordinated and underdeveloped. I was, and still am, hopeless at any sport requiring a ball and team cohesion. I floundered in baseball, soccer, football and basketball, my pathetic attempts at athleticism easily and effortlessly trumped by my female cousins. After a bout of bullying in 3rd grade, my parents astutely and promptly enrolled me in Tae Kwon Do. Here I found my niche, and my entire culture of fitness was birthed. Here I was the one that excelled, and only I determined, through efforts I had complete control over, whether I exceeded or floundered. I set the schools knuckle pushup record, creating a lifelong obsession with the exercise that would preserve and rescue my sanity during many arduously repetitive months at sea. I absorbed and intimated the values of self-reliance, the embracing of strength in all forms, and, most importantly, humility. A black belt earned quickly gave way to Boxing, which gave way to impromptu wrestling lessons taught everywhere from the fields near my friends houses to the bars of rural Virginia. I have mastered myself physically which much more pavement to trek, and have only become aware of how much more I need to achieve to consider myself a capable, formiddable, fully grown Renaissance man.

The classic financial tome, "The Richest Man In Babylon", was integral in the shaping of my financial philosophy and indispensable to the development of my financial acumen. The book, released sometime in the 1950's, reads as a series of parables that, while in the format of a story, culminate in the distillation of some invaluable piece of financial advice. Such treasures like paying yourself before you pay anybody else, debtors and bill collectors included, and taking on the role of prudent scholar and investigating thoroughly when considering investments, have served me faithfully and gainfully since I first gleaned them from the book on a bucolic Sunday morning in Pensacola, Florida. However, one story has stuck with me more than any of the others, providing a type of framework that guided the building of my future. It is a classic yarn of the prodigal son returning home. Ill spare the reader some of the juiciest details so that, if they are so inclined to ever peruse the book themselves, the magic of this gem doesnt fly over their heads. The gist of the tale is that a young man, given his inheritance, is unleashed onto the world by his father, the king of an empire. His father instructs him to return to him by his 30th birthday, and, if he has succeeded in becoming a worthy man, he will assume the throne, as is his birthright. What spoke to me is that the father made his beloved son earn his title, he didn't merely pass it down carelessly. A man must prove his mettle daily, and even fatherhood is no exception to this ancient rule. The young man does eventually return, and presents his father with 3 times his inheritance in 3 different currencies, validating not only his growth and maturity, but cementing his place in the pantheon of rulers. His story is quite endearing, heartbreaking, and, strangely, jovial. What it gave to me was the begrudging acknowledgement of the fact that, no matter how much privilege I came from, in the eyes of God and the world, and to a lesser extent my Father, who, whilst loving me completely and unconditionally, still views me through the harshly pragmatic lense of manhood, I would have to earn my place at the table. This wisdom has driven me to prove myself too myself in all areas, to embrace self-improvement as a lifestyle, and to work tirelessly and unceasingly to better my life daily. Existence is a Sisyphean ordeal for me. I accomplish one goal, beheading one portion of the Hydra, only to have 5 more regenerate in its place. Im Hercules wrestling the Nemean lion, taming the beasts present both in my life and inside my heart. But the struggle makes me strong and tempers me into steel, forging me daily inside the kiln of strife and adversity. Ive known no other life for 4 years, and I wouldnt trade it for the world.

I, like all men and women, will be a work in progress for the rest of my life. No being is perfect but Almighty God, yet we should all strive for perfection because, as unattainable as it may be, it guides us towards the greatness we are all capable of. They say that you dont find yourself, but create yourself. I consider this bullshit, an egregious lie, a solipsistic, narcissistic attempt by my generation to not improve or adopt the teachings of the past, but to mutiny against them. The ironic part is that they are essentially saying the same thing. Picture yourself as a sculpture in progress. Now envision these two sayings given life. In the process of creating yourself, you carve and strike and diminish unnecessary clay, tossing it from your body vehemently. But, while this is indeed creation, you are merely finding what was hidden underneath the unnecessary excess all along. Read widely and absorb all. Venerate the ancients and the modern, but dont deify them. Accept struggle and toil as part and parcel of success. Are they painful? Yes, but only for a moment. The alternative is a life of mundanity and mediocrity. I can imagine no greater heartache to bear than the realization that one has wasted their life in the hedonistic pursuit of the path of least resistance. The clock is ticking on your life as we speak. Make your choice, and choose wisely.

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