Last night, I rewatched the South Park episode “Bloody Mary”. In the episode, Randy gets busted for drink-driving and has to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. There he learns that his drinking isn’t his responsibility, but that of a “higher power” that he has to leave all of his decision making to.
By the end of the episode, Stan tells him that all he needs is discipline and that it comes from inside each of us. That avoiding something altogether isn’t discipline, just like going hog-wild and drinking too much isn’t discipline either. Finding a balance is something all of us need to do.
Firstly, I think alcoholism is a little more serious of a problem than they make it out to be in the episode, and I don’t think Randy is really an alcoholic. However, this post isn’t really to discuss alcoholism, AA or faith in a higher power.
The thing that struck me about the episode is how much of what we want out of life is dictated by our own discipline. Frankly, any person on the planet can do almost anything they set their mind to, given enough discipline.
That thought scared me as a teenager. If anything is possible, then how are you meant to decide what dream to follow. You want to be a millionaire, no problem, just work hard. You want to be a writer, no problem, just work hard. You want to be a professional athlete, no problem. Well, you get the idea.
So, if anything is possible, how do you know what’s the right thing to do? Well, I think it’s a lot like a relationship with a girlfriend/boyfriend. Whatever you do turns out to be the right choice afterwards. You just need to pull the trigger on something.
So, let’s say there are two girls: Betty and Suzy. You like them both. Betty is prettier, but she’s not really into the same things as you. Suzy isn’t as pretty, but you get along great. Who should you ask to the prom?
The answer: Either would be the right choice.
If you ask Betty, you might date her for a while. You find things in common and grow closer. After a while you ask her to marry you and you have two kids: Ronny and Laura. You grow old together and you think every day how lucky you are that your wife is so beautiful.
If you ask Suzy, you get on so well. She grows more beautiful by the day as you love talking to her and sharing things with her. After a while, you ask her to marry you and you have three kids: Tom, Riley and Emily. You grow old together sharing each other’s thoughts on the things you’re passionate about.
Now imagine that you are you from scenario one, twenty years in. Would you want to swap for scenario two? Of course not, because your kids wouldn’t exist. Your marriage to Betty wouldn’t have happened. You’re happy and don’t want to change. The exact same thing is true for scenario two.
Can both scenarios go wrong? Of course they can. You could end up having a messy divorce from Betty or Suzy and hate every second of it. You could wonder forever what would have happened if you’d made the other choice.
However, even after all of that heartbreak and mess, would you change your whole life? It’s likely that something good has come out of it. Something you don’t want to lose.
Now think back through your own life. There hasn’t just been Betty and Suzy, but probably dozens, if not hundreds of potential suitors. Every one of them would make you into a different person than you currently are, but you’d lose who you are now. Would you take that choice?
So, how does this help us with our problem of infinite possibilities? Well, all of them are right choices. You just need to find out which one you really want to do.
Write a list of what you want to do. Find a random number generator on the Internet and allow it to randomly find you which one you are meant to do. It’s likely you’ll be disappointed. If you feel disappointed with its choice, then cross that number off the list. Keep getting random numbers until you’re not disappointed with the one it picks.
Do not rule anything out because it’s impossible. Nothing is impossible. We have private flights to space, film directors exploring the Mariana Trench, people becoming best-selling authors through self-publishing, millionaires at 17 years old. I’ll say it again, Nothing is impossible. All it takes is discipline. Do something enough and you’ll eventually succeed.
You may need to have a day-job while you’re waiting for that to happen, though. Someone has to feed Betty, Ronny and Laura.
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