November 14, 2023

The heart may be beating, but it has nothing to pump


Obsession beat talents every time.

It’s about hunger. It’s who wants it more. Period. The people who optimize for love are unstoppable.

Sports is the prime example. Most basketball players you see come alive when the lights turn on. But the great ones work in the dark.

Kobe used to do this. Two hours before practice even started, his coaches would walk into the building and hear the ball bouncing. But no lights were even on. They would walk out to the court, and there he was, out there shooting in the dark.

The guy practiced before practice. He had talent, of course, but he loved basketball with all his heart. And nothing was going to stop him. Hell, the guy watched game footage at halftime. Legend has it, he would corral his teammates in the locker room, fire up the laptop, and show each one of them precisely how they could carve out easier shots for themselves.

Are you kidding me? Who does that?

What’s important about this example is, it’s not only about winning. Kobe had five championships in his career, which is an amazing feat. But his work ethic transcended the mortal spoils of breaking records, being the best and earning a spot in the hall of fame.

Those were all nice fringe benefits, but a jedi craves not such things.

The true value is always in the process. Because when a person does the work for the love, nobody can take anything away from them. Even if they lose, fail, get hurt, get fired, get booed, whatever, good luck getting that person to stop. You really think they give a shit about something as pedestrian as criticism or resistance?

Results are for amateurs. They’d still be playing this game if there was no ball in their hands, no fans in the stands, no competitors on the court, and no scoreboard on the wall. That’s how much they love it.

What they do is part and parcel of who they are. It’s not a choice, it’s simply biology. The stuff is in their blood.

Now, there may come a day when they can’t physically do the act anymore. And that will be devastating. But knowing them, they’ll just switch gears and do something else. They’ll reroute the same love through a different channel.

You can even kill their career, but their heart is only going to regenerate into some other form.

My belief is, most people have their own variation of this love inside of them. Some of them might have buried it under the crushing weight of expectation, guilt, shame or barbecue sandwiches, but it’s there if you really look hard enough.

Here’s how to find it for yourself. Ask yourself three monetary filtering question.

The first one is, what do you love enough that you could earn money doing?

This is the rarest expression, as not everyone’s fortunate enough to have the circumstances or resources to make that happen. But if it’s possible, then it’s a sign towards the gift.

The second one is, what do you love enough that you would do for free, even if nobody was watching?

There’s some serious passion territory. Those things people would be doing anyway, when left to their own devices, it’s yet another indicator of their gift.

And lastly, my personal favorite, what do you love so much that you’d paid money for the privilege to do?

It’s funny, the phrase pay to play is used for a variety of situations in which money is exchanged opportunity to engage in certain activities. For some, parting with money is the only way get in the game.

So what? When did we decide that was a red flag of someone who sold out?

It’s quite the opposite. If the only way you can get stage time is to slip the emcee a hundred bucks for thirty minutes under the lights, then you better believe that the love optimizer is going to lay their money down. Two hundred bucks an hour for the chance to stand naked before a crowd and pour out their soul like holy water, hell yeah it’s worth it.

I’ve personally done that last one before and had no qualms about paying to play.

Again, with these questions might be monetarily focused, but it’s not about the cash in the abstract. Money is simply a helpful measure of the cash value of desire. And there are a lot of people in this world who lack that existential spark. They allow themselves to grow numb with distractions. Some inner conflict is slowing them down from letting love lead the way.

It’s heartbreaking, ironically enough. The organ atrophies from lack of spiritual use. The heart may be beating but has nothing to pump.

Do you know someone like this? If so, they don’t need stronger medication, they need better mirrors. People who will reflect the beauty back to them. People who will remind them, the only one holding you back from anything is you.

What a gift to do that for someone you love. Because when a person overgeneralizes and believes that they are no good, that everyone agrees they are worthless, and that they are right about this, boy do they need a good mirror.

An as the mirror gets clearer, the reflection becomes less avoidable.

Enough people have done this for me in my life, and I’m convinced it’s more efficacious than any antidepressant on the market. There are no copays for encouragement. It’s free.

I’m not saying it’s the only carrot that will motivate someone to begin optimizing their life for love, but it’s not the worst place to start.

Ultimately, everyone has the skill and the will to show up two hours before practice to start practicing in the dark. This isn’t a practice reserved for professional athletes, performers or entertainers.

Nobody has a monopoly on obsession.

When channeled lovingly, any one of us can optimize for love.

What do you love so much that you’d paid money for the privilege to do?