By Rob Judge
Today’s article was conceived in its totality a split second before I was nearly annihilated.
At 6:23pm, on Saturday, my business partner Zack and I were sitting outside at a sidewalk café. We were enjoying the fading sunlight of an usually balmy spring day.
After we squared away the check, we stood up and started strolling down a quiet side street in the West Village. When we were a few paces from the café, Zack pointed out a girl across the street.
“Hey man,” Zack said in a familiar tone, nudging me, “There’s your next girlfriend. Go meet her.”
I laughed, but parried the challenge. “Nah,” I said, “I’m stuffed from dinner. I’ll meet my next girlfriend tonigh—”
Before I could finish the excuse, a loud tire screech sounded behind us—the unmistakable sound of a car losing control.
I whipped around to find a yellow van cab racing toward us. Before the reality of this even registered, the van popped over the curb and smashed head-on into a store front not 3 feet from us. The impact was that of an enraged battering ram, the van had been moving with such speed that the back wheels actually lifted off the ground.
Paralyzed, I just stared.
One second the van was driving, now it was lodged into a wall. Its crumbled hood looking like a severed human face with the nose freshly lopped off. But instead of blood, the van gushed gasoline.
Looking down I saw the deadly black liquid pooling around my boots. The van’s door whooshed open, someone inside screaming, “It’s leaking gas! RUN!”
The passengers scattered in all directions. Zack grabbed me by the hood of my sweatshirt, “Come on, man! Let’s get the hell out of here!”
“Yeah,” I said, craning my neck, trying to make sense of what just happened. “Let’s go.”
We darted up the block, not a word spoken between us.
At the corner, a man cradling a baby stared at us, his mouth hanging open. “You two,” he whispered, rocking the baby, “Someone’s watching out for you two. You’re lucky to be alive. Damn lucky.”
It was then that the gravity of what had just happened washed over me. My brain was like a jammed movie projector, playing the scene over and over in the theater of my memory.
All the cliché if’s surfaced: If we’d been walking a pace slower, if we’d stopped for half a second.
Then, because the moment was inextricably tied to the scene, I thought of my interrupted excuse right before the screech. “I’ll meet my next girlfriend tonigh—”. Another tonight almost didn’t exist.
Here we go again, I can hear you sigh, another boring anecdote about a near-death experience that made someone realize the importance of living life to the fullest. You’re only half right.
While yes, nearly having my body crushed between the grill of a New York cab and a concrete store front made me appreciate the beauty of life, I’d rather focus on that interrupted moment before impact, the “I’ll meet my next girlfriend tonigh—” moment.
As anyone who’s applied dating advice to (actually) meeting women knows, the only real helpful information is that which gets you to change your bad mindsets.
Because as we all know your mindsets dictate how you think which dictates how you feel which dictates how you behave which dictates how attractive you are. Therefore, I’m relaying my nerve-wrecking anecdote because I want shift one itty, bitty little distinction in your mind: the difference between living hope versus living reality.
Had I died last weekend, do you think I would’ve gone to my grave content I’d done everything I’ve set out to do? Hell no! There are so many more girls I want to meet, projects I want to finish, places I want to see, and things (and people) I want to do.
How, then, will I be content when it is time for me to die and the out-of-control taxi doesn’t miss by a few feet?
Answer? By choosing to live my life in reality, not hope.
I devoted an entire chapter to “hope versus realty” in our book, but this weekend reinforced it.
To live in hope is to wake up with the perpetual belief that “things are going to get better.” Living in hope feels nice because you feel as if you’re taking the active steps to improve your life.
You read the self-help books, you join the mastermind group or message board, you watch the seminars and absorb the knowledge. You’re convinced that you’re not just another loser—you’re making progress!
But I call bullshit—you’re not making progress, you’re just wallowing in hope. If you aren’t actually making tangible gains toward your goals each day, you’re just another disillusioned information-addict sucking the tit of hope.
You’re never going to be truly happy, truly successful, or truly alive. And the moment before you die, you’ll realize you were never alive to begin with.
So, then, what’s the alternative?
You must make a promise to yourself to live in reality each day. That is the key if you want to truly live your life. Reality can be harsh. It can be embarrassing, it be uncomfortable—living in reality means living at the mercy of rejection, of failure, of messing up.
Living in reality means putting what you learned to the test, finding out if those “feel good” emotions you got learning it are actually legitimate, or just more mental masturbation with no practical application.
That’s all I need to explain about living in reality—either you get it or you don’t. And if you don’t get it, it’s not my failure as writer to define it—it’s your failure as a living human to accept it.
You were given your life as a gift. It is nicely packaged in a fancy plastic wrapping called “hope.” It’s your decision whether or not you’re going to open that fancy wrapping and use your life. Or are you just going admire it from a distance?
Hope or reality?
That’s your choice to make; however, you may not realize you made the wrong choice until a split second before you’re annihilated—or almost annihilated.
And if you that little anecdote fired you up, then you really have to do yourself a favor and read the chapter on “Hope versus Reality” in our book, The 4 Elements of Game. I promise the words will tattoo themselves in your brain. You’ll never be able to live your life like a loser again.
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Read the chapter on choosing reality over hope in The 4 Elements of Game.
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