“If you’re not willing to give up everything, then you’ve already lost.”
I stare down at my leg as I try to attempt to read the permanent black ink needled into my skin. I was 18, fresh out of high school and on my way to my dream life down in Tempe, Arizona wrestling for the Arizona State University Sun Devils. Life was as good as it ever was.
Finally, after a life spent abiding by this quote, it was time for the next level. It was time to leave everything behind to transform into the man and athlete I am capable of becoming. Little did I know, this quote would have nothing to do with wrestling. Little did I know, this quote would resonate time and time again as I journey on my path of arriving here, now.
Most of you already know of the story that precedes. In a short six months after it would all come tumbling down, just like that, done. Crippled, literally after sustaining a disc herniation that caused chronic sciatic impingement. I went from running 3 miles on the track in 19 minutes to having help getting dressed, showering, and tying my shoes. From stud, to dud. Talk about pulling my redshirt and starting for the Sun Devils was now distant chatter, I was no longer of use, rather a liability costing the program scholarship money.
Fast forward another six months and I underwent 4 spine surgeries, 25 days in the hospital pumped full of narcotics, nearly losing complete sense of reality. I was fucked up.
On the outside you could say I was done. On the inside, you know, I honestly entertained the idea of calling it quits on more than just wrestling, and on more than just one occasion. I was in chronic pain, addicted to opioids, broken mentally and physically, and no longer could I practice my god given abilities. I lost it all. My body, my mind, my love. Everything that I have ever identified with was now gone. The faith that was so strong as I walked into surgery #1 had diminished into a not so bold, form. The ride was over, before it had even began.
Or, so I thought.
Fast forward four years of self discovery, fuck ups, fuck downs, wins, loses, broken hearts, broken wallets, hippie living, things I’m not proud of, things I will speak of boastfully, and all the crying, laughter, sadness, and happiness in between, here I am. Still alive. Happy as fuck. Full of love. Absent of fear. Faith once again dominant.
I didn’t have a tough home life growing up. I was given everything I ever wanted. My struggle has been physical pain. Chronic physical pain is absolutely taxing. It started at 14 for me. Two knee surgeries, dislocations in both elbows, 4 back surgeries, and too many broken fingers, sprained ankles, separated ribs, cuts, bumps, bruises, and a few surgeries in the future to come. I’ve been broken, bent, and bashed but for some crazy reason I still can’t give up it. After 20 years of beating the absolute shit out of myself, I still go back time after time. It’s an addiction. No, it’s just my purpose.
You can kick a man, knock him down, make him nearly forget why he’s living, bring him to suicide, depression, addiction, flood his life with health problems and take it all away and he can still get the fuck up and get back into the fight. That’s life though, getting back into the fight when you’ve been beat.
I haven’t had it the worse. I’m not here to compare my story to anyone else. The intention of today’s writing is to once again re-illiterate the fact that you are special and you have purpose. No matter what the fuck happens to you, as long as there’s still air in your lungs, as long as you can get your ass out of bed every morning, as long as you are still holding on to the very little bit of hope for your life, it’s not fucking over. It’s never over.
Whenever you are down I want you to remember one thing, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. The greatest philosophers, artists, poets, athletes, business people, and leaders of all kinds have been there.
We all have our rock bottom story. But when you’re ready to wake up from it all, you will. When the pain is great enough for change, you will wake up. You will one day say, enough is enough.
And just like that, giving up everything has never been easier, because, you’ve already, WON.