Life is an intricate and unavoidable series of accumulated dodged bullets, hangovers, sucker punches and walk-off homeruns. Sprinting forward toward the horizon at breakneck speed, all the while pondering the “what ifs” of the previous chapters of your novel… Your memories, a spectrum of sun flares and comet tails, fading and falling to Earth as you pass.
Beings with free will, we paradoxically shrug off the narrative arc of existence as the way things were simply “meant to be”. But it is only human to ponder how life might be different if at certain junctures you made a right instead of a left… If you said no instead of yes. I’d like to believe that I came to the fork in the road and went straight. But though I’ve always taken lengths to do it my way, I’ve had to make decisions like everyone else. And though at the moment, they seemed rather mundane and terrestrial, I can see how huge they were in determining the trajectory of my life.
I can easily trace where I stand right now to being a seventeen-year-old punk thinking I deserved to play Division I ball, despite the train wreck that was my high school “career”. Full of equal parts piss and vinegar, I turned down an opportunity to play at Emerson–an elite creative arts school with a D-III program. Named after the godfather of transcendentalist literature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the college launched countless film, television and writing careers. But through my narrow, idealistic teenage view, it wasn’t good enough. Instead, I went on to get cut from the team at LaSalle, flunk out and then barely scrape into St. Joe’s where I gave up hoops in exchange for weights and books, finally managing to get my shit together. But I can’t help but think “what if” I had opted to go to school and play ball in Boston, where I would’ve roomed with my childhood friend who was going to BU. Where would I be right now? Tantalizing to ponder the unknown possibilities. But no one will ever truly know.
However, here’s what I do know… Without the pain of the hoops disappointment, without staying close to home in Philly for school, there would be no whole-heartedly turning to the weights for refuge. There would be no writing scripts with Sko. There would be no bouncing at the Taj in Atlantic City. There would be no meeting Tara. There would be no Madison in my life. No G Diesel alias. There would be no job at Animal. There would be no Sienna, Scarlett or Penelope. No creating fire with Dirt. No #GoHard. No GCode… A veritable catalog of all that is most precious and valuable to me in this world. It is more likely than not, that had I not made the decisions I had, the way I did, I would not be sharing these words with you today. I’m sure I would’ve turned out just fine, and after much struggle and strain, found my way to success and eventually carved out my place in the world. But it certainly would be a very different destiny.
This is just a single, simple story from one dude’s life. An example of how a solitary decision so radically altered his course forever. How in a more mature moment, two decades ago, the hard-headed, short-sighted educational choice of a cocky streetballer from Brigantine, could easily be seen as “wrong”. But how all of that wrong slowly morphed into the sort of right that could never have been predicted at the time. It is the kind of wrong choice that I am now eternally grateful to have made.
I write these words with the luxury of twenty years of measured hindsight. But, now more than ever, it is crystal clear to me how each of us are the cumulative outcomes of our decisions—for better or for worse. How the decisions we make today could Impact us decades from now… How the “mistakes” of yesteryear often evolve to benefit us dramatically over time… How the determined intent of a new day is the first step toward profoundly changing our lives. I am the product of every decision I have made to date—the errors of arrogance, the stubborn stumbles, the triumphs of tenacity. I am flawed and faulty in a hundred ways, but I’m working on it. And there’s one thing I do know for sure… I’m exactly the man I am supposed to be, at this critical moment in history. All thanks to a decision.