Maybe What You Really Need Is a Quest
How to accept fate and live a “real-life Dragon Ball” life.
Originally published in Mind Cafe on May 21, 2021.
We’re all quitters.
Culture has brainwashed us to despise quitting. “Quitters never win”, and other quotes have helped us misinterpret quitting as an evil entity that makes us reak of failure and weakness. Life is a series of failures, and if you “quit”, there’s no place in this culture for you.
But at the same time, life is a series of quests. It’s not about “being successful” or “not giving up”, it’s about making the most of the time that you have and doing as much of what you love as you can with the people you love. In the grand scheme of it all, everything else is just chatter.
But you’ve heard that before. You know the motivational quotes and the inspirational juju and all that Instagram-y stuff. That stuff is great, but this article isn’t about that. This article is about “accepting fate” in order to make even the blandest moments in your life a beautiful part of your quest.
Society Doesn't Want You to Have Dreams
The quest begins with a dream. The problem is, well, dreams are very problematic, and socially it’s unacceptable to pursue them to their fullest extent. There’s a reason so few people “make it”, and though everyone has an excuse as to why they fell short, the most common reason people fail is that they quit. That’s just real talk.
Dreams are exhausting. Dreams are expensive. Dreams make you broke, broken and beaten down. Dreams are risky — they can ruin people’s lives — and the one in the most danger is the dreamer. The worst part about dreams is that dreams can inconvenience those around you for your own personal gain.
A lot of dreams ignore society’s deepest problems and focus on the selfish gain of the dreamer. Who’s going to work on keeping the water running and putting food on the table while you’re out pursuing your dreams?
I mean, it’s a legitimate question.
The problem with this idea isn’t that it’s illogical. It’s completely logical. The problem with the idea of the “inconvenience of dreams” is, well, it sucks. Killing dreams makes the world a worse, darker place — even if the lights stay on.
But really, “my dream doesn’t matter” is just part of the story you tell yourself. That’s the part of the story where you want to quit because you’re broken down, falling on your face, and pushing beyond your limits. That’s the dip. When you’re on the verge of giving up, those logical ideas seem very tempting.
“Just grow up.”
“You’re part of what’s wrong with society, loser.”
“How can you be so selfish?”
Sometimes these doubts come from your friends, your family, or even just random trolls on the internet. Sometimes, they come from your own head. But everything you ever wanted is on the other side of the terror, doubt, and resistance that runs through your veins before your defining moments.
The Modern World Is Wack
When you have ADHD, as I do, it feels like the world isn’t built for you. The modern world is built for people who are good at keeping track of important things, good at obediently sitting still, and content to blend into society.
But really, who wants to live like that?
I’m none of the qualities that are considered conventionally successful. I lose everything. I can’t stop moving. To me, the thought of a life without adventure, quests, and the constant overcoming of obstacles sounds more like a death sentence than an existence.
So what does that make me? It makes me weird. It makes me kind of an outcast. It makes me feel like a crazy person for blazing with purpose over something that seems insignificant to most of the world. According to the societal notion of success, I’m kind of a bum.
I went to college, but I hated every moment of it. The conventionality of it all sucked the life out of me. I knew where the path I was on led, and it was soul-crushing because it led to nowhere exciting. I didn’t grow in the classroom, I grew from getting my face smushed into the mat in every city in America before I could even buy a legal drink. But more on that in a minute.
The most important thing I learned from 18–22 is that to truly attain fulfillment, you have to follow the beat of your own drummer and just pray that others are on the same beat. They probably are.
In a way, martial arts is an escape for me, but in many other ways, it’s been a proving ground for the character building that I always needed in my life. It’s given me everything I ever dreamed of: excitement, quests, and the knowledge that I’m worth something. It’s given me everything I thought was only real in comic books and adventure films. It’s anything but typical.
Real-Life Dragon Ball
A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a client I work for, and I was explaining my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu “career” to him. It’s always a weird conversation because the sport is so obscure, but I’ve had it a million times at this point.
For the last 6 years, I’ve been frequently traveling across the country training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Imagine the typical “struggling rockstar” dream, without all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Replace that with broken toes, sweat, and the grimy stench of the countless other young men I’ve met in my travels with the same dream in mind.
I’m a digital nomad and a pretty high-level athlete, I guess, but there’s nothing sexy about it.
During that particular work phone call, I was in Toledo, Ohio, training with some of the best grapplers in the Midwest getting ready for an important tournament, the IBJJF No-Gi Pan-Ams (Pans), which took place last weekend.
“Damn, dude, that sounds like Dragon Ball or something,” said my boss after I was finished explaining why I was sleeping on a pullout couch in Toledo that week and working from the living room floor. We both laughed it off and I never thought of that conversation again. I just went back to training.
But last week when I was competing at the Pans in Dallas, I got cut under my eye from a kick to the face. In an effort to keep me from bleeding all over the mats while grappling through the tournament, the trainer wrapped my head with athletic tape giving me what’s called a “tape helmet”. The result was the picture you saw at the top of the article.
During the moment where the trainer was wrapping my half bleach blonde half pink hair up in athletic tape, I couldn’t help but think to myself “damn, I guess my life kind of is like real-life Dragon Ball”.
I’m romanticizing a bit, but still, nothing gives me a resounding sense of purpose quite like the mats that I’ve grown up on.
The Dream Doesn’t Look How It Does On Instagram
Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the most difficult philosophy book I’ve ever read.
It’s long-winded, confusing, and written in the voice of a prophet. In many ways, the book makes Nietzsche sound insane. But really, it might be one of the sanest philosophy texts I’ve ever read. It’s chalked full of lessons, concepts, and quotes that have only grown stronger in meaning over the last century since it was published.
The most underrated concept that I learned from the book is the idea of “amor fati”: a love of fate.
Amor fati is the key to living a “real-life Dragon Ball” life. Before you write me off as the crazy guy with a tape helmet who can’t stop talking about Dragon Ball, let me explain:
By accepting and even loving fate, you can begin to free yourself from the burdens and limitations that it creates in your mind. By telling yourself that you’re not in control of your destination (your destiny), you’re finally able to begin your quest.
In reality, most of the journey of your life is created by your own mind. You create stories in your mind that dictate how you feel about certain events, and those stories help construct the “identity” of yourself that you use to interact with others. It’s easy to see how lying to yourself could cause problems.
There is a lot of truth in accepting your lack of control. When we accept that the ideas we have about ourselves are just “made up”, we can move past them. Your limiting beliefs destroy your dreams and they kill your quest before you even get out the door. “Can’t”, “shouldn’t”, and “won’t” are all siblings, and they’re a part of the family of broken dreams.
The quest isn't about becoming Insta-famous or winning medals or any of that crap, it’s about unbecoming all of your limitations so that you can become who you truly are meant to be. Who would you be if life hadn’t beaten you down?
Perhaps you’d be an “ubermensch”.
It’s Probably Easier to Just Give Up
I’m going to be completely honest with you, trying to “live my dreams” has been the most exhausting thing I’ve ever undertaken.
I’m spending more time on the mats every day than I ever have between teaching, training, and fine-tuning details for my upcoming competitions. I’m also freelancing a full set of clients and blogging every chance I get. Maybe it’s just my ADHD forcing me to constantly take on new projects, but each of these things feels like an essential part of my being. I can’t imagine not doing them.
As I grow older, I’m learning more about the art and science of sustainability as a way to counteract my obsession with improving. The more I become, the more I learn the value of letting go.
This is where “amor fati” comes in. If you never reach a point of acceptance, you’ll constantly be “doing”. This is what society and “hustle culture” want from you. The machine makes more money if you don’t accept yourself and your life. How could they sell you that new self-help book or course if you’ve already accepted yourself?
I don’t know if I believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do know that if I don’t accept what I’m doing, it all happens for no reason. We do things to grow. If you’re doing just to do, that’s not a quest, that’s digging your own grave.
I’m trying to live less like “real-life Seinfeld” and more like “real-life Dragon Ball”. That’s my dream.
Fake people make all of us look bad. People who use tools like social media to put on a fake persona of happiness make truly happy people look evil.
The reality is that “living your dream” isn’t about going on fancy vacations or any of that crap. Living your dream means that you’ve stopped dreaming your life. It means that you’re being real, not attempting to fill some bullshit persona you’ve invented to make the world think you’re happy.
How do you know you’re doing it right? Well, that’s where our walrus-mustache friend Nietzsche comes back into play.
Like Nietzsche, you should dance to the beat of your own music. It doesn’t matter if you feel alone at first, because I guarantee that there are more people than you know who are dancing to that same beat, you just need to find them. Authenticity breeds companionship, love, and happiness.
Other Articles Published in the Last 7 Days
More Quotes From the Walrus Philosophers…
I’m not a nihilist… I swear.
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
“When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
“Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
As always, if you enjoyed what you read, please share, tell your friends, or reshare the article from Medium. It helps me more than you know.
Wishing you the best,