You would think spending eight seconds on the back of raging bull would be easy. But as a person who’s done it many times, I can assure you it’s not. It’s more than difficult, almost impossible—depending on which bull you draw.
I’m sure most of you don’t know this, but years ago when I was younger, I spent many afternoons on the back of a two-thousand-pound animal that wanted nothing more than to throw me off and put its horns through my side.
It sounds pretty dramatic—and let me assure you—riding a bull is. You might wonder how bull riding taught me a life lesson I’ll never forget, so here we go.
You see, we’re all wired differently, and we all have things that fulfill us. We all have the need for speed, or the need to escape reality—even for a minute—to experience what life, simply by itself, cannot provide.
For some people, it’s drugs, for others its alcohol, and for a lot of us, it’s success and money. We live recklessly in the pursuit of our “fix” and ignore the warning signs that in some capacity overtake our common sense.
Over the years, as I recently shared, my vice as been the Internet. From starting businesses, to making money, to being held captive by social media; there have been seasons where I have misprioritized things. Big time.
The Dangerous Appeal
If you want to understand the depth of consequences our “fix” can sometimes bring us, watch this video, and you’ll see. Lane Frost was a true cowboy, one of the best bull riders of his day. It’s tragically clear he wasn’t bigger than life, nor bigger than the bull.
While I understand most of you don’t ride bulls, there are some parallels here about which are undeniable.
Habits, hobbies, our business, and our work lives are among the many desires that pull us so tightly we fail to see the consequences of our decisions. And most importantly how our choices affect those we love.
I’ll be willing to bet most of you are married, and some of you have kids. While bull riding seems like an extraordinary illustration, keep reading.
Lane’s death was instantaneous, and most certainly a tragedy. But I’ll tell you there are countless wives, husbands, and children who also think it’s tragic to be neglected and not prioritized—to not feel important. In other words, they are dying a slow death—which is just as tragic.
I spend a lot of time online, and fortunately, I can do it from home. This means I’m accessible to Shelly at any given moment during the day and also I’m home when Zach wants to play after school.
I can assure you it also means I have access to work whenever I want, and the pull is to do it all the time. It’s easy for me to close the door and shut my family out. And far too often I do, which is something I’m actively working on.
It’s also easy for some of you to stay at the office to finish one more project. To make a few more thousand dollars. To take one more drink at that bar.
The Last Ride
It was a hot summer day when I wanted to take one more ride. I just couldn’t get enough and thought one more “fix” would satisfy me.
Five seconds into the ride, I realized it was a decision which nearly cost me my life. I was thrown into the dirt, and by the time I stumbled to my knees, I was eye to eye with a two-thousand-pound Brahma bull.
Three feet away.
Let me tell you what kinds of things go through your head when you’re that close to death. They aren’t pretty and quickly become crystal clear. Things you should have done. Words you should have spoken. Time you should have spent with the people you love.
When you say wedding vows, you relinquish the ability in your life to be selfish. When you get married, there are two people you need to consider, and when you have kids, that becomes three, or four, or five.
I am challenging myself, and I challenge you as well, to look inward and to identify what stands in the way of the relationships you have with people who matter to you. Or the ones where you matter to them. Here’s some advice:
Be available. Be accessible. Make time, before it’s too late.
On Walden, and Living Deliberately
I’ve always been a contemplative person, and have always loved Henry David Thoreau. He was intentional with his efforts, and that is something far too many of us fail to do.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
For those of you who run your own business, I highly encourage you to take a few of those billable hours and invest them back into your well being. Don’t do the work, and take that time for yourself and your family.
I don’t know what you do to escape reality or where you go to find refuge. Go the beach and listen to the waves crash. Go to the mountains and run. Turn on that song and listen to it. Pick up that book and read it.
Spend more time living life, rather than trying to escape it.
. . .