By Troy Headrick
During this past week, I went back and reread the autobiographical blurb I have posted on Pointless Overthinking’s “Our Team” page. It had been a long time since I’d looked at what I’d penned about myself. I wanted to see if it still felt true.
I’d forgotten that I’d written about myself using third-person pronouns. I suppose it made sense, though, to have referred to myself as “he” and “him.” That’s very much the way I am. I’m the sort who stands to the side, very inconspicuously, looking, making mental notes, playing the part of objective observer, and then trying to come to some conclusion about what I’m looking at. I take this role even when thinking and writing about myself.
I was especially intrigued by the last sentence of my little autobiography: “His ultimate goal is to live the uncommon life.”
Yes, that’s very true of me. I suppose it’s always been true. For as long as I can remember, I have been the sort who wants to be challenged and to swim against the current.
I can share an early example of this. When I was about eleven or twelve years old, I decided, one day, likely entirely out of the blue, that I wanted to learn to juggle. I had several tennis balls on hand, but this was long before the internet and Google and YouTube. No one in my family knew how to juggle, so there was no one to ask for advice. It was clear from the very beginning that I’d have to teach myself.
I had no idea how to start, so I began to experiment. I tossed one ball into the air and caught it with the same hand that had thrown it. I watched it rise and fall. I watched my fingers close around it. I noticed everything about the act and motion. I did this over and over and over, two hundred or more times, and sort of fell into a trance.
Soon, I was able to add a ball and noticed how a second necessarily changed the way I had to interact with the first. It took real concentration and determination and a certain amount of blind faith that the path I was on would end up taking me where I wanted to go.
To make a long story short, I eventually taught myself how to juggle three and then four balls at once, and then I started using plates and bowling pins and all sort of objects.
Being able to juggle has no real value except that I know I figured out how to do it by myself and that not everyone has this ability. I like being able to do things that others can’t. And I like trying things that others won’t.
During the “Arab Spring,” I lived in Cairo, Egypt. My family and friends tried to get me to leave the country as it began to fall apart during the uprising against long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak. Rather than heading to the airport, as most foreigners seemed all too eager to do, I got out on the streets and joined the action. In the process, I put myself in a few dangerous spots. I never felt more alive than I did then. In fact, the very best things I’ve ever done were often the things a more cautious version of me would have shied away from.
But what’s the point of living if all you’re going to do is play it safe? I’m not asking that question in a purely rhetorical way. You may not have to put yourself in the middle of a revolution, but you should, at the very least, put yourself in a hard spot every now and then. This can be as simple as giving yourself a challenge from time to time. For example, go a week without driving or have a conversation with the next homeless person you happen to see.
The possibilities are endless.
Of course, attempting to do something out of the ordinary might take you out of your comfort zone, but that’s the point. Embrace the discomfort. Try something hard. Push yourself a little farther than you’ve ever been. I promise you, in the long run, you won’t be sorry.
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.
If you’d like to see some of Troy’s art, have a look.