Four months ago I felt invincible to a certain degree. I wanted to accomplish many things and was extremely motivated. Motivated almost to the point where I found nothing could stop me. A certain tenacity and pride built up inside me as I pursued my aspirations. Like a fire, the feeling of invincibility grew until I decided—three months ago—that I actually was invincible. I was succeeding on my own terms. I spent every ounce of time I had from eight in the morning to ten at night going to meetings, classes, and doing school work; all the while still getting my physical fitness and food intake in. I was attending all my classes and had little trouble keeping up with the material. I was focused, dedicated, and motivated… Unfortunately I was also fooled.
Two months ago I had my thoughtless thought. I had gotten back to my room earlier than expected. I was exhausted, yet happy, sitting at my desk doing my math homework. I was happy because I was doing it, I was accomplishing something. I was building the knowledge that I sought and was building myself up as a person because hard work and knowledge are generally deemed the building blocks of life. At around ten that night I got a call from our mother. I could tell she was crying as she stated, “I don’t know how to tell you this.” I immediately thought to myself do not panic. I had prepared for this call for some time.
I knew my grandfather was going to die soon, as he has been in out of the hospital multiple times in the past two years; the entire time on dialysis. He had reoccurring battles with a deadly bacteria and suffered occasional memory loss. I kept thinking, you can handle this, Kane. Just try and comfort her and help her get through this. Our mother, crying over the phone—I hate it when mom cries, regardless of the reason—told me, “Your dad passed away earlier tonight.” I stuttered, unable to reap the words from my tongue with which to speak. “My father or your father,” I asked. My heart became uneasy in the following milliseconds as I knew that clarifying wouldn’t save me from what I was about to hear. I wasn’t so invincible anymore.
My mom told me how dad had just died of a heart attack. I could only think to ask: is he going to be alright? I had no other thoughts in my head, I had no success, I was not tired, I couldn’t even think of what death meant. I could only think to ask if dad was going to be alright. Thoughtlessly that was my only thought.
To be completely honest with myself, I should have expected it. I remember when you and I were little dad would always tell us he would live until he was 120. It may have been stupid for me to believe, but I started to. On his last birthday I even joked that he was almost half-way dead because he was approaching sixty. The worst part is that I wasn’t truly joking. I believed it and I think you did too. Dad couldn’t die because he wasn’t 120. He couldn’t die because he beat up four bikers at a bar just to save his own bike. He couldn’t die because there was nobody tougher than him and nobody that I held myself closer to. I partly think I thought I was invincible because of him. Two days before he died, he told me how proud he was of me doing my internship and taking so many college courses, and how proud he was of you for having your life on track. He talked about how we were doing so well and that he loved us. He was the one that told me that I could do whatever I wanted; that we could do whatever we wanted. I was invincible because my dad was not going to die.
However I did get a call and it hit me that I am not invincible. Even worse was that time didn’t stop for him. I got back to school and had to drop a few classes to cut my schedule down to a normal size. I had just missed too much school and could not even begin to handle long work days again. I crestfallenly dropped my internship within a few weeks as I couldn’t keep up with it anymore. I couldn’t stand to go home. A trip home on the weekends to market (which I had been doing in the previous weeks for my internship) was no longer a success to me but something that plagued my mind. I began to wonder if all the schoolwork that I had been so focused on, the internship I took to put myself ahead, the military work I had been trying to achieve was not actually how I found myself to be successful. Within an hour of a single phone call on a cold Monday night, everything that I had defined as my success and everything that I thought I was doing right seemed so wrong. All of these things had kept me from being with dad or seeing him for periods of time. All of these things kept me away from our family for the last two months and have continuously held me back from feeling motivated. Everything I had set for myself as a success turned on me in an instant and became my warden.
I kept hoping to myself that things would get better. I kept hoping that I could feel like things would become meaningful again. I decided to make it my goal to just try and stick it out through the semester, solely on the thought that the next semester I could start with a “clean slate”. My grades dropped rather harshly. I thought that was okay because eventually I would have that “clean slate.” My lack of internship was “tied” to this semester. I blamed everything on “this semester” because this semester was just unlucky and nobody would be able to pull through under my circumstances. I thought I needed to have a “clean slate.” It’s been two months and this thinking has only driven me into a worse spiral.
Now it is this month, and the other night I got a call from mom. She was crying again because we had a small fight before I left back for school. I asked, “why are you crying?” She replied saying, “I don’t know,” but I think she was crying because did not care about anything anymore. I was possibly going to get kicked out of ROTC. I wasn’t going to get good grades and I wasn’t going to be successful. I wanted to be motivated but I was not and I think it broke her heart because she knew. Something about hearing her crying again—this time for my sake—made me realize: there is no “clean slate.” If things are going to get better it’s not going to be because of something that begins or ends. I am not going to magically be motivated again and I will not find myself to be successful at anything unless I actually try. Even though I have lost most of what I thought made me successful, I now realize that success is still obtainable. It is just going to be in a different way than I imagined and with more effort than I thought. Everything I actually do now makes me successful, and that thought will keep me motivated.