In my 2010 Stockholm speech I discussed unhappiness and uncertainty, and how I chose uncertainty over unhappiness — when it mattered most, and when I was not getting the details right (when I was screwing stuff up).
I will clarify what I mean by this today — choosing uncertainty over unhappiness.
Clarify because I see it as necessary to get my ultimate point across, because I have come to further understand the gravity of what I was saying … and because I have come to understand that this is one of the greatest gifts my best friend gave me before his death — and that this is an expression of the greatest sensation man can experience.
When James Galt II chose uncertainty over unhappiness (in regards to a work related decision if I’m not mistaken), little did he know, I think, that in the process of choosing “uncertainty”, he was choosing his own certainty.
He chose to stand up for what he knew to be right, in the context of the current sum of his knowledge, understanding, and process of thought.
Instead of simply holding reason as his absolute, he was now gripping the mother f*cker like there was no tomorrow.
He was exercising reason as his absolute, in physical reality.
He was exercising his heroic strength and courage to face reality — a strength we all possess, but rarely choose to manifest.
And was the end external result as he had planned and hoped for?
I have no idea.
Does it matter?
What matters is that James Galt refused to further tolerate unhappiness in a specific area of his life — that he then knew how to overcome.
James’s actions, in choosing “uncertainty” over “unhappiness”, were in fact a process of narrowing down his choices to a black and white that reflects the black and white nature of reality.
Flying to Sweden last year was one of the most terrifying decisions of my life. I knew there was no guarantee I would succeed — or fail.
But I knew calling the whole thing off, was a guaranteed recipe for failure.
Rather than submitting to failure, I chose to rise above.
I chose my own certainty. I placed the weight of the world I had created onto my shoulders, and took full responsibility for that weight.
All of these things are self-reinforcing.
YOU choose to reinforce them, or abandon them.
YOU choose to stick to your guns — or retreat and curl up into a ball in a corner and cry about how “unfair” the world is.
Sticking to your guns does not mean you will win — that you will succeed externally.
But it means you are winning where it matters most, inside.
It means you are actively holding reason as your absolute.
It does not mean you are perfect, and will be infallible.
It means you will be the ideal.
That you will live it, no matter how high the cost, and no matter the outcome.
It is a giant middle finger to everything in the world that does not matter, and the strongest embrace possible of what truly matters.
Of what is right, by the best of your own judgement.
By your best.
By living your ideal in reality.
I’ve had the ground work for this post on my mind for a while (since I saw James comment and realized the topic was worth expanding upon).
Yet, I chose to write and release the post today because I had the rare and unique opportunity to exercise this choice in a new area of my life, that I never have before.
I chose to write it because late last night, I realized my best friend made this decision as well, in perhaps, its highest expression possible.
He made it very near his end.
The outcome was not as he had hoped.
And he died, never having the chance to work towards changing that outcome.
Yes. To the furthest extent possible.
But I know that decision prepared him for the ultimate test of his strength — when it would matter not supremely, but foundationally and finally.
The question of whether or not his life had meaning, that he asked himself on his last conscious breath.
The answer was yes, absolutely.
Most people will die unable to face this question — and therefore unable to provide that answer.
They will die without attributing meaning to their own lives, and the sum of the actions there of.
He died knowing his life had meaning.
He did not die perfect or infallible.
He died the ideal man, living his ideal to the end.
A man who absolutely stood up for his convictions, and what he knew to be right.
He was always willing to pay the price for such actions.
And his reward was the answer few ever have the courage to tell themselves.
Yes, my life has meaning, and I have been the one to attribute it.
I got to exercise this choice today, of choosing my own certainty over certain unhappiness.
Like my friend, the short range outcome was not what I had hoped. In fact, perhaps like him, I had plenty of screw ups in the process of making this decision.
But I made it.
I made the difficult choice that most shrug.
I took responsibility for my own happiness.
For my own self.
For what is right by my judgement.
And I have never been happier for making such a decision.
To know that I am right, and to act on it, no matter the immediate, or even long range price.
observe witness my-self growing in new ways, and in new arenas.
Outcome be damned.
— Anthony Dream Johnson