Staring Into the Abyss


An interesting thing often occurs when I sit down to write up almost any blog post I do… a gnawing sort of feeling that, even though I may like what I’m writing, I haven’t the slightest clue whether it will resonate with a single soul out there on Teh Interwebz.  Needless to say, that can be a bit of an unsettling feeling because I do my utmost to ensure my blog entries are authentic – what you read is 100% pure me.  Straight, no chaser.

In that way, I can relate a touch to the famous quote by Nietzsche, “And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”  Now granted, I am not generally a big fan of Nietzsche’s work because what he wrote (these large and powerful texts full of bravado) stood in stark contrast to how he lived (meek and mild, blending into the background), but I do like the quote.  He may never have intended in such a way, but it often feels like how it is to sit down, stare at the open screen in front of me on my Mac and think, “Holy crap… is anyone really going to care AT ALL about any of this?”

Fortunately, some people do seem to care and have been nice enough to say so.  Thank you to all of you – you keep me going.

But there is the daily challenge for us all in many ways: looking ahead into a future we can only view as that same kind of darkly murky abyss where nothing is clear and a good long stare will bring about nothing but even more anxiety, hand-wringing and general bad mojo.  Seriously – it’s science.  I looked it up in the New England Journal for the Furtherance of Mojofication Studies.  It’s a very scholarly periodical designed for superior intellects like mine.

That’s why I realize a little more every day that the greatest triumphs are rarely a singular shining moment of transcendent excellence (although they surely can be).  It’s much more often a collection of smaller moments that will eventual grow, gain momentum and become something much bigger than you could really expect when first starting out.

To use a strength and conditioning example to illustrate.  When most people begin a serious exercise program, the gains come along at a fairly rapid pace as your body basically soaks up the new challenge and adapts to it, week over week.  However, this will slow or, if you aren’t terribly thoughtful in your approach, stop all together.  Once you’ve been doing something a while, new improvements do not happen nearly as rapidly, but rather, they develop as a slow build.  It’s only at the end when you look back you realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve truly accomplished.

So for me, it’s just one blog post at a time and with each ensuing entry, hopefully something approximating a body of work will come into focus… and maybe a few more people will read it, tell their friends and so on.  I am still in the beginner stage where I should be a little smarter about getting my site a little more “pop” – no question about that.  But it still won’t change the fact that in order for this project of mine to grow… it’s a series of entries just like this one, day in and day out.

You may not have a blog, but I know there is something you are working towards as well.  We all have that “thing” that stokes our passions.  Put in the daily work as best you can.  I’m doing my best at it and some days are better than others.

Step up to that abyss, but don’t waste your time staring into it.  It only stares back into you and it’s not a staring contest you will ever win.  Instead?  Give it a quick wink and promptly kick it’s ass a little bit every day.




Mojo.  An absolute fantastic word that is truly difficult to define.  You could go with what our good friends at Merriam-Webster and say it is:

a magic spell, hex, or charm; broadly : magical power <works his mojo on the tennis court>

That’s pretty good… not great, but a fairly solid B on the grading scale of life.

I tend to think of mojo more from the Dr. Evil definition from Austin Powers:

Austin Powers always defeats me because he has mojo… The libido . The life force. The essence. The right stuff . What the French call a certain I-don’t-know-what.

Granted that seems rather vague, but the vagueness is the beauty of it all in the end.  Mojo is the juice that gets you going and excited about life.  It’s passion, but with a bit of a funky twist.

Mojo has been on my mind of late, mostly because I have had a loss of it for a variety of reasons.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not exactly all-world when it comes to dealing with change, but despite that fact, life has given me a bit of it over the last year or so.  Funny how life works like that – you would think it would just listen to my wise counsel on how things would go, but apparently not.  Slowly but surely, I woke up to find myself just not quite feeling it… and that’s really the problem with losing your mojo.  It’s not as if you are struck by a blinding white light like Saul on the road to Damascus, but it’s more of a slow creep that nibbles away bit by bit when you lose your vigilance.

Heck, a prime example of my mojo loss was this very blog that means quite a bit to me.  I had to go back and look at it today to see when my last update occurred… February 28th.  Yeesh.  But I was just not feeling the inspiration or the muse to make this blog happen… so today, I decided “Aww screw this” and sat down to write the words you read this very moment.

But let me be crystal clear in my view of the loss of mojo… it doesn’t happen because of what life does to you.  Not at all.  It happens because of how you respond to what life throws at you.dwight-gooden(2)

For instance, let’s say life went all circa 1985 Doc Gooden on you by throwing you a  major curveball – the kind that no one alive is going to be able to deal with well.  Break-up.  Job loss.  Illness of a loved one.  Those things are certainly going to drop you in your tracks for sure and any of those scenarios takes a lot of time, effort, patience and faith to pull through.  In that sense, no one on earth should expect someone dealing with anything like that to immediately bounce up and say, “Well dagnabbit all!  Life is all about how I respond and not allowing anything to be done to me!  I think I’ll go watch Mary Poppins and whistle a happy tune!”

But at some point in that coping process, it becomes a lot less about whatever happened and all about how you respond to it.  For bigger life changes, that period is longer and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not bouncing back like a damn superball.  You cannot be low forever.  You cannot mourn for an eternity.  You cannot go all Brian Wilson and lock yourself away in your house for years while wearing a bathrobe as your fashion statement on a daily basis.

Which is why I love this Nike commercial so much:

Because it’s about at least pushing yourself to see how quick you’re gonna get up.

As always, the words I write in this blog do not come from a place where I am sitting idly back and pronouncing forth how I think everyone else should live because I have it all figured out.  I write this because it is equally a challenge to myself to do more, to be better and… in this case… to reclaim my mojo.  I just hope detailing some elements of my own personal fight gives hope or insight or even just a sliver of amusement to those who read this.

So to end it all, I give you the example of Sylvester Stallone.  No, seriously.  While Sly makes for a very easy target these days, it helps to think back to his earliest days before he was a big star.  Why?  Because in spite of everything he faced and all the hurdles in his way, he kept his mojo working against a Fat Bastard world that was seeking to sap it all from him.  Listen as Tony Robbins tells the story of Rocky:

Mojo – use it or lose it, people.  It’s far easier to keep than to reclaim.  I let it slip and now I’m working hard to get it back.

Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war.

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