Posts Tagged ‘fearless’

got the magic in you?


Feelings of inadequacy abound.

  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m not naturally talented.”
  • “I’m not smart enough.”
  • “That person did it first, so now I can’t do it anymore.”

Why is it that we’re able to psyche ourselves out so effectively rather than just simply doing the damn thang? Is it fear? Is it anxiety? Is it an emotionless obstacle, like Steven Pressfield’s Resistance?

our deepest fear is our greatest strength

There’s a saying floating around that rings something like this: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

How many of us truly believe that? How many of us have witnessed within ourselves that capacity for power beyond measure? Perhaps that’s legitimate for some, and perhaps that’s a way of rationalizing inadequacy for others. I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t accept it.

The truth is, we all have magic in us. We all have an untapped well of power, of strength, of fortitude, that we’re simply too inconvenienced to tap into. Why dig deeper when we can watch TV? Why improve ourselves when we can settle and still get by? Why meditate when we can masturbate?

We find pleasant distractions and diversions that effectively turn us away from our goals, from our true directions.

The problem with bettering ourselves is it’s never fast, it’s never easy, and – the worst part – it’s rarely a brilliant flash of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve our goals. There is no shortcut to self-improvement, whether we want to become a better writer, a better doctor, a better student, ambidextrous, or a faster runner, it takes hours upon days upon weeks upon months upon years of dedication before we achieve sustainable results. Sure, we can achieve results tomorrow if we want. I could publish my first e-book by end of day today. I could grow muscle with one hour at the gym. But if we want lasting effects, if we want true success – what some call luck – that requires preparation.

Only then can we be ready for the opportunity. Think: you may be preparing for your success right now without even knowing it. If you’re not . . .

It’s time to start building toward it.

It’s time to start fearing our own power.

Got the magic in you?


one-year anniversary – why i quit my job


On June 28, 2011, I walked into my boss’s office, filled with anxiety, the majority of my hairs standing on end. I said, “I think it would be in my best interests, and yours, if I put in my two weeks.”

One year later I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Hoboken, NJ, staring across the Hudson at the glow that is Manhattan.

I do not regret my decision for an instant.

But, if I could do it again, there are definitely things I would do differently.

reading between the lines

For those of you unfamiliar with that situation, here is my [poorly written] post from a year ago explaining it.

The past year, however, is slightly more complex than sitting in coffee shops in and around New York City. More than anything, this has been a year of self-discovery. It has been the kind of year I wish upon all my friends, and my enemies, though it’s not as glorious as I’ve likely made it sound.

This post is here to set the record straight.

By impulsively quitting my job, I was able to take a step back from my life and examine it as an objective observer. I allowed myself to ask the important questions, free of the cloud of responsibility and pressure.

  • What makes me happy?
  • What can I not live my life without?
  • What do I envision as my typical happy week?
  • How can I live my happy week 52 times a year?
  • Why do I associate hypocrisy with screw-top wine bottles?

Above all, I have finally been able to come to terms with my flaws (most of them). This may sound trite, but it is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I was able to embrace them, thereby becoming consciously aware of their presence, thereby minimizing their negative effects on my life. Here are my top flaws I identified:

  • I over-promise and under-deliver
  • I lack discipline
  • I am inconsistent (case and point, this blog)
  • I am easily distracted, primarily on the interwebz
  • I am selfish

On the flip side of this, I have also been able to identify what I believe to be my strong points:

  • I am authentic – I say what I mean and I mean what I say
  • I am driven to produce the best work possible
  • I am always learning
  • Yeah, short list…

All in all, quitting my job was one of the best things I have ever done with my life. But there are some distinct shades of gray to that deed as well.

For those of you looking to quit your job, for those of you looking to start doing work you love, for those of you unsure as to where you want your path to take you, let the juvenile lessons learned by yours truly help you get started on the right foot.

Because I certainly didn’t.

shattering the illusionsi quit my job

The easiest part of quitting our jobs to pursue our passions is the actual quitting. While nerve-wracking at the time, it is overshadowed by an exhilaration that cannot be replicated. For me, this made it an easy choice. But once I came down off that high, I knew it was time to get to work.

The hardest part, by far, has been the financial strain from not having that nice regular paycheck. I went from a bi-weekly paycheck with a coveted comma to a bi-weekly paycheck that rarely rose above $400.

In light of this, my #1 piece of advice is this:

1. Have some money put away before you quit your job

I altered my lifestyle but, granted, it didn’t keep me from experiencing life. I was still able to go skydiving for the first time, whitewater raft the fifth most dangerous rafting river in the world, and have my first Central American adventure in Nicaragua. But once those adventures were over, the reality of my financial situation set in and I’ve been severely restricted in what I have been able to do since then.

If you have no problem living the lifestyle of the starving artist – constantly – then this does not apply to you. To everyone else, I recommend having a little cushion before you go Bohemian.

My second lesson is this:

2. Know what you want

This sounds simple, but it’s harder than we realize. When I quit my job I knew I wanted to be a novelist. That was good direction, but the more I learned the more I realized the difficulties involved with going the straight novel route. A novel is not written in a month, unless you’re Stephen King. That first novel, especially – Carrie was denied a number of times before he got it published. So I needed other income streams in the meantime, and I needed to improve my writing tenfold before I put anything as substantial as a novel on the market that wouldn’t get torn apart and push a potential audience away.

So I made it my primary goal – and it still is to this day – to always improve my writing. To always experiment with different styles, with different voices, with different structures. That being said, my third lesson is this:

3. Never be stagnant

In December and January I experienced a period of overwhelming stagnation, resulting in my first – and hopefully last – anxiety attack. I was barely writing and had let life get in the way of my creative endeavors. In order to achieve any kind of growth as human beings, we must always be learning, always seeking knowledge. If we feel stagnant in our job, it’s likely because we feel we aren’t learning anything new, that we aren’t growing.

If we want this to change, we have two options: 1.) We can wait for an opportunity to come along and seize it, or 2.) We can create the opportunity ourselves. Robert Greene’s The 50th Law has a very motivating chapter on how to do the latter of these two. He titles it “Turn Shit Into Sugar.”

final reflection

Ultimately, as I said earlier, I would not change what I did one year ago for anything.

  • I experienced more rapid personal growth than I had in the past eight years
  • I am a better writer than I was 365 days ago, although there is still quite a ways to go
  • I have become more aware of those important questions
  • I am happier
  • And, of course, as my best friend so poignantly told me, for the first time in seven years I finally lived up to the title of this blog

Now if that isn’t worth impulsively quitting one’s job and living in poverty for the next year, I don’t know what is.

the will to live


“This business of being a writer is ultimately about asking yourself, ‘How alive am I willing to be?'”
– Anne Lamott

I had my first anxiety attack two months ago. It was not a good feeling. For those of you familiar with anxiety attacks, you’ll understand the understatement.

I fell to the floor. Overcome by fear. By doubt. By misgivings generated by my own fear of the unknown. Of questions unanswered.

And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.


That anxiety attack preceded a second attack two days later. I was at work when I felt it start to set upon me. There was no collapsing this time around. There was no giving in. So I did what came naturally.

I found a quiet space and I wrote.

Within 50 words the knot in my stomach had unraveled into something akin to utter contentment. Before I was halfway down the page of my little journal I was soothed. All was literally right with the world. Well, my world anyway.

It’s moments like these, moments of intense crisis and panic that can be a determining factor in our lives. I’m not one to degrade the day-to-day, the pleasures of breathing in and out, or the supposed banality of daily living. But sometimes there come moments in our lives where we are defined by crisis. Where we see what we’re truly made of and what it is that truly matters in our lives.

For me, that answer is writing. I knew it before. I know it now.

a life of action

A book rests on my shelf entitled Way of the Peaceful Warrior. (if you haven’t read it, I recommend it – the ending seems a farce but the messages within are invaluable) One of the quotes of that book spoken by the protagonist’s mentor, whom he’s sardonically dubbed “Socrates,” is, “A warrior’s life is that of action.”

Now don’t think warrior in the classical sense — the sword-wielding, armor-bearing, rebel-yelling warrior — but rather someone who consciously strives to live the most virtuous life possible. And in the above quote, much of the bare essence of that peaceful warrior is revealed.

In hindsight, my anxiety attack was brought upon by my own inaction. December was not a fruitful month for me in the way of the written word, and this came to a head in early January when I was unable to come to terms with my own idleness.

Now I’m not saying don’t stop to smell the roses. If anything, this “life of action” encourages you to do just that. To take in all that is around us as we move forward in our lives, not living a life of idle speculation. Take advantage of all that beating heart has to offer us. Experience anything. Everything.

For me, my primary course of action is writing, and getting unforgettable experiences under my belt to feed that continual need for something new, for something creative, for something adventurous (define adventurous in your own terms).

I write to live. I live to write.

Not everyone’s answers are so simple. I’m sure mine ultimately aren’t. But for now, it’ll do.

What’s your answer?

be a ‘yes man’


All too often in life we encounter people who try to crush our dreams. All too often in life we inadvertently crush our own dreams. We do this because we’re afraid. Of failure. Of change. Of embarrassment. Of someone telling us we’re not good enough.

But there comes a time, there comes a place, when this simply will not do. When confronted with a time and a place such as this, it’s time to say “screw it” and start being a ‘Yes Man.’

be contentious

Simply put: there are too many people in the world who don’t follow their dreams. Innumerable excuses exist as to why:

  • It’s too hard – I can’t do it
  • It will take too much time – time that I don’t have
  • There’s too much risk involved – what if I fail?
  • I don’t have the money – it costs too much
  • I make a lot of money – why would I want to leave?
  • I have a family – I have to focus on them
  • I don’t want to fail – people will laugh at me
  • I’m too old – I can’t change now
  • More bullshit
  • Even more bullshit

All of these excuses (because that’s what they are) resonate with the same complacency we see every day. Vacant stares. Going through the motions. Minds everywhere but here.

And yes, people probably will laugh at you when you fail. Not “if” you fail, but “when.” Because understand: You. Will. Fail. Now move on. Because when they laugh at you, when they sling their silent barbs and their mockery, when they tell all their friends you’re no good and everyone wonders why you even tried, you can laugh right back and tell them, “I’m not done. This is but a stepping stone. You are but a stepping stone. And you will watch as I crawl, tooth and nail, above and beyond you, accomplishing my dreams in the face of adversity, in the face of fear, in the face of all those who tell me ‘No’.” (you probably shouldn’t literally say this to them . . . might sound weird)

Embrace this battle. Embrace this discontent. And whatever you do, do not submit. “When you submit in spirit to aggressors or to an unjust and impossible situation, you do not buy yourself any real peace.” (from The 50th Law). Defy them in your own way and you will overcome.

Be contentious about issues like this that matter, issues that concern your dreams and ambitions. And sometimes, for the fun of it, be contentious about issues that don’t matter, simply to stir up some cognitive dissonance within others. Do something because someone says it can’t be done. If they’re smart, maybe you’ll shake them out of their own apathy.

If you don’t believe me, listen to some dead guy: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Stephen King was denied publication for his novels 29 times. James Joyce 33. But they fought. They said, “Yes, my work is good.” And they won.

However, in the light of all of the above, please avoid the whirlpool of idiocy this can sometimes generate:

  • Don’t say yes to projects that, in your gut, you know you don’t want to or shouldn’t do
  • If what makes you come alive is chopping down trees, killing puppies, or driving a Hummer that gets 9 miles to the gallon, you may want to rethink what makes you come alive. Others, and the environment, cannot be ignored
  • Don’t do something simply to get a rise out of someone. Have a reason. An excess of heated emotion does not a good compatriot make

be content

Throughout all this, we must feel the discontent brewing within us. Feel the dissatisfaction with the status quo, with the relative comfort in which we find ourselves when we work jobs we hate for that biweekly paycheck so we can buy shit we don’t need. “People who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are. . .” (again, The 50th Law)

And through all this, be content.

Feel the emotions rock and roil, embrace the anger at the crusher of dreams, feel your adrenaline pump, the creativity arise, the fluidity flow, and channel that into positive energy. Channel that energy into your passion, into your daily life.

And through all this, be content.

Understand, though, that we can’t win all the time. Someone’s “no” will overpower our “yes.” We will question others so completely that we will get lost in the argument with little hope of resurfacing.

And through all this, be content.

so the next time

The next time a boss or coworker tells you that you can’t do something, say “Yes I can.”

The next time someone tells you that you aren’t capable of following your dreams, say “Yes I am.”

So fight the dream crushers. Fight the sardonic. Fight those too afraid to pursue their dreams so they make it their mission to squash yours under their hypocritical heel. They will say no. And you will look them in the eye, contentment pasted upon your brow, and say yes.

See: “Be a No Man”

be a ‘no man’


All too often in life we encounter people who ride the wave of popular opinion. All too often in life we ourselves ride that wave. We do this because we don’t want to shake things up. We don’t want to piss someone off. We are comfortable with the status quo and aren’t in the mood for challenging ourselves or others.

But there comes a time, there comes a place, when this simply will not do. When confronted with a time and a place such as this, it’s time to say “screw it” and start being a ‘No Man.’

be contentious

I have few friends who agree with me on many things. In that same light I refuse to date a girl who won’t test me. And I prefer it that way. If all my friends agreed with me on everything, life would pose no challenge. Debate would hold no merit, as it would be nonexistent. Now that’s not to say they can’t be brought around to my point of view, or I to theirs (we should all be open-minded enough to allow our opinions to be swayed time and again), but sometimes we must argue simply for the sake of arguing. Here’s why:

We cannot advance ourselves without discontent. Without dissatisfaction. Without confrontation. Many people shy away from confrontation because it scares them, but it should be wholeheartedly embraced. The disillusioned hold the key to societal progression. Oscar Wilde said, “The world belongs to the discontented.” I agree with the intent of that saying, and I admire the concept of the Occupy movement for this reason alone. They are flipping the metaphorical, and sometimes physical, finger to the establishment. It takes balls (and some free time) to be able to do that.

Be contentious about issues like this that matter. And sometimes, for the fun of it, be contentious about issues that don’t, simply to stir up some cognitive dissonance within yourself. You may find that you question things more than you originally thought you did, an unwitting gift in the form of confusion. This is not a curse, but a blessing. If you don’t believe me, listen to some dead guy: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

However, in light of all of the above, please avoid the whirlpool of idiocy this can oft-times generate:

  • Don’t argue about things you know nothing about
  • Understand that things you know something about via personal experience, you may have no knowledge of in abstract form, or vice versa (i.e. I feel better when I don’t eat carbs means carbs are bad for me)
  • If the other person is getting too heated, sometimes it’s better to just drop the issue. An excess of emotion does not a good argument make

Now if only my sober self could tell this to my 10-beer-deep self.

be content

Throughout all this, we must feel the discontentment brewing within us. We must feel the defiance, and the freedom that this brings. Stop saying yes all the time, stop agreeing with everyone, stop riding the wave of popular opinion. Stop being a paper sailboat drifting along in the gutter until the only thing that awaits you is the gaping darkness of the storm drain. Stop being a fucking pussy.

And through all this, be content.

We will lose arguments. Our reasoning will not prove sound. Our level of knowledge will not be sufficient. Someone’s “yes” will overpower our “no.” We will question ourselves so completely that we will get lost in the argument with little of hope of resurfacing.

And through all this, be content.

Life is mysterious. Life is nebulous. Life is immeasurable. Understand this. And when intellectual understanding is attained, realize it. Internalize it. It’s not all rainbows and kittens, but it’s also not all blood, sweat and tears. Life is imperfect at best. And in this imperfection, it is perfect.

so the next time

The next time a boss or coworker tells you to do something you disagree with, say no.

The next time someone says something so ridiculous you want to punch them right in the suckhole, say no.

The next time someone does something you deem immoral, say no.

And through everything, be content.

there is no try


A wise little green man once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”Yoda

I find this to be more true the further I go and the deeper I delve into my writing.

I am committed. There is no turning back now.

A couple people told me a month ago that if I don’t find a certain degree of success within the year that I should re-evaluate my decision and consider going back into public relations, into the good ol’ 9-5. The more and more I think about it, I realize that my return to that field, and to that lifestyle, is next to impossible now.

For that would mean that I had given up on my dreams.

And that I will not do.

motivational mondays – you’re gonna die


Death. The ultimate equalizer. The source of so many people’s fear about so many irrational prospects. What if I told you that by embracing your own death you are embracing life more fully than ever? That each moment will feel that much more alive, that much more vibrant.

Most people have probably stopped reading by now. And do you know why? Fear (or boredom). People fear death. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to confront it. The only times it enters their consciousness is when someone close to them dies and they are forced to embrace the truth – that some day, somewhere, you will die. In fact, it might be within five minutes of where you are right this second. And why not?

To fear your own death is to fear the only inevitability in life. Nothing is guaranteed, save the fact that one day your heart will stop beating. Life and death exist in harmony, one balancing the other like yin and yang, like good and evil, like Simon and Garfunkel. It’s natural.

visualize your death

The key to living well is to realize this fact. Not just understand it, but to internalize it. To make it part of your daily living. And it’s not even paradoxical, except for those who refuse to really think about it. And I mean REALLY think about it. It’s a liberating form of meditation and will allow you to feel the emotions that will accompany your final moments. Fear. Loss. Resentment. Regret. You don’t want those to linger in your head during your final moments – your death is YOUR moment. The most glorious one you will ever have. Embrace it. It’s the most alive you’ll ever be.

grim reaperDo it. Visualize your own death. Will it be when your car gets T-boned driving to work, smashing your head against the driver’s side window and killing you instantly? Visualize the blood. Or maybe you’ll be cleaning your gutters this October when you lose your balance and fall from a second-story roof, hitting the grass at an unlucky angle and breaking your neck. Visualize your neck’s unnatural angle. Or better yet, what about an aneurysm? One second you’re walking down the sidewalk, cookies-and-cream ice-cream cone in hand – the next you’re experiencing the most intense pain of your life in a split second and suddenly drop dead. Visualize your body lying still on the sidewalk.

Maybe it will be in 10 years…maybe it will be in one week…maybe it will be tomorrow…maybe it will be in one hour. It’s unpredictable. It’s uncertain. But it will happen.

take it to the limit

Your embracing of death should be your motivation to do something meaningful – today. Do something unpredictable, foreign to your normative behaviors. Something people wouldn’t expect of you. Take a risk, damn it! Escape from your usual Monday routine and tell the world to go kiss its ass while you do what you want to do. Lose control and lose yourself in the act of living.

By losing your fear of death you become unbound by contemporary constraints – whether that be the fear of pursuing your dreams, the fear presented by the unfamiliar, the fear of becoming a social outcast – anything! You just need to look your own grim reaper in his skeletal face and say, in your own special way, “Go fuck yourself.” (that’s how I say it, anyway)

This is your time, and you haven’t got much of it left.

Now if that isn’t motivation on a Monday, I don’t know what is.

i choose anger


yosemite sam - madI get angry at the bar I work at. Why does that jerk have to order food at 1:30 a.m.? Why do those drunk guys have to be such douche bags? Why didn’t the bartender tip me out more? Why won’t that hot girl make eye contact with me? (just kidding – they always make eye contact……)

I got anxious at the 9-5 I worked at. Was I producing good work? Did I do enough research? Did I miss an important concept in my outline? Will they like my next press release?

If I had to choose between anxiety or anger, I’d choose anger.

Anger is a motivating emotion. It incites action. Granted, not always the most positive action. But I would rather be doing something, anything, than be hunkered down in my desk chair, controlled by my fear. I lost a lot of my self-confidence over the years because I was afraid. I was producing good work (at times haha), but to me that just means I am not meant to be living that lifestyle.

Anxiety is caused by fear – an inherently crippling emotion. I don’t have time to be afraid. I need to jump out of that plane tomorrow. I need to write these books and short stories. I need to travel and reconnect with friends. No time for fear.

upset the balance

I grew up a very tame individual. I rarely got angry because it wasn’t often worth the emotional investment. After all, I’d rather be happy, right? People see anger as confrontational. It throws things off-balance and upsets normalcy.

On the flip side of the coin, we need to upset that balance time and again. If things are too often kept on an even keel, nothing would change. We couldn’t develop emotionally or mentally. So in a certain light, anger represents change. Anxiety keeps you from changing – often the fearful are the ones more afraid of change than anything else.

So I choose anger.

why i quit my job


I have fantasized about writing this post for three years. Now it’s time.

I quit my job. I am no longer a public relations professional. I do not live the 9-5 lifestyle.

My new job is my passion. My new profession is my will to be great. My new lifestyle is one of my own choosing.

Why? Why have I sacrificed a comfortable 9-5 job at an amazing company with a steady paycheck, a nice health/dental/vision package and an IRA? Why have I cut my income by nearly two-thirds? Why have I taken such a life risk?

my [loss of] independence day

To gain a better understanding of why I quit my job, we need to take a look at the roots.

I paid for my entire freshman year of college. No help from my parents. No loans. Straight cash out of my pocket earned by umpiring little league baseball games and working 20- to 50-hour weeks at Red Robin. My funds ran out when freshman year ended. Thus, in spirit, so did my independence.

I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t pay for my next three years, but had effectively deluded myself into thinking I would not have to rely on my parents. I had moved out. I was on my own. Mom and Dad were two people I no longer had to rely on for a cash flow. I could finally stand without holding onto something.

But my envisioned independence was not meant to be – the Rents began paying for my college education. I still paid for a portion of my tuition by working over breaks, but it wasn’t the same. I was no longer financially independent. This fact meant quite a bit to me. One summer night just before sophomore year began, I got a little too liberal with my wine and broke down sobbing about how I wanted to drop out of college and move to California. And god knows I probably would have done it if my parents hadn’t stopped me.

Thus, I began to get angry. Over the next three years my optimism transformed into cynicism. I hated the institution. What kind of bullshit is paying thousands upon thousands of dollars to get a piece of paper that said, “I am now qualified to be paid more than the high-school-educated person.” I hated the cliche that was the man. I hated authority unless I saw it in action, unless I personally saw the cogs turning.

It was at this time in my life that I started my first blog, dubbing myself a “freebird.” I determined that I would one day live without shackles. My life would be my own and nobody would tell me where to be or when to be there. I didn’t need a lot of money. I just needed freedom. In hindsight, this was when I really started to become who I am today.

fast forward

That was 2005. It’s now 2011. Six years……

I chose a field of study, pursued it rigorously, and found moderate success. And with that moderate success, I found an equatable level of interest in my field. That’s not to say there weren’t things I got excited about – I bought into it as much as I possibly could. I really did. I convinced myself, to a certain degree, that I could simply get by working the 9-5 until “the ideal” came traipsing along – get a book published, gain a foothold in freelancing, get the perfect job where I can be happy – anything.

I’ve been very fortunate with the jobs I landed in my field: I got to work for a science center that introduced me to so many new and exciting concepts and theories to which I would have otherwise never been exposed; and I got to work at an incredibly dynamic agency that is actively breaking the traditional mold of what an agency looks like. It was through working at these amazing places and yet still feeling unfulfilled that I realized it wasn’t about the work environment – it was about me. My dreams. My needs. My vision.

Because when you’re pursuing a career for which you lack passion, when you wake up every day and long to sit at your desk at home and write instead of driving 30 minutes into the city, when you cringe at the prospect of checking your email…well, that’s when you’ve reached the tipping point. That’s when you’ve boiled all the water in your pot and it starts burning, losing its integrity and diminishing the possibility for any future use.

I lost some of my integrity during my pursuit of a career instead of a lifestyle. I degraded myself, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I have grown soft and inattentive. Complacent. Unappreciative of the wonders that surround me and, more importantly, of the incredible things I can do with my life.

I refuse to allow that depreciation to continue.

take a stand

My life has now taken a new direction. This is my stand. This is my pronouncement.

I will no longer excel at mediocrity. I will no longer subdue my passion for pragmatism. I will no longer be ruled by the fear of being solely responsible for my success or failure. I will defy convention and do what I’ve wanted to do since the seventh grade.

I pursue my true goals now with a sense of desperate urgency – I will write. Novels. Freelancing. Blog posts. Anything and everything for which I am passionate. The real work of my life now begins in earnest.

Am I scared for what  may come with such an unpredictable future? I’m freaking terrified. But the scales have finally tipped. My exhilaration outweighs my fear. My power now lies in my independence, and in the knowledge that I know nothing and, understanding that, can achieve everything.

And so it begins.