There’s a certain level of irony in the fact that I’m writing this post before my “introductory” one, but considering that these more personal/introspective posts are going to be intentionally buried as compared to my film/travel posts, I figure what the hell.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m what the kids today would call “a hot mess” and while I could go into just why that is, I’m not going to do that here; that’s what I have a therapist for, after all. Yet I can’t help but think about what drives me to continue, even when I’m in a lower state than what I consider to be normal. Some days, it’s plain as can be that something’s amiss, but when asked about it I always come back with some variant of the same thing: “oh, it’ll be alright” or “nothing too serious” knowing full well that if I’m being asked about it, I’m grossly understating my response. Do I let that stop me, well of course I don’t. Why would I?

I suppose this so-called flame-under-my-ass got ignited after what I’ve come to call “The Great Madrid Heartbreak of 2016” – perhaps I’ll write about it here one day – where I truly was at the lowest point I’d been at in my life thus far, and things for a couple of days just stopped in their tracks. When I returned stateside the following Sunday, I hung out with my best friend for several hours trying to come to terms with everything that had happened in that nightclub three days prior, and she gave me a piece of advice that I’d given and likely received many a time before, but this time it really hit home. She told me, “you can’t let this stop you from doing what you do and being who you are.”

The takeaway from that: even when someone plays all their cards right, Murphy’s Law still has a way of happening; it’s how you move forward that shows your resilience, grit, or what have you. When I returned to work that Tuesday, I had the obligatory questions about how everything went and I admittedly understated my responses, sure, but then I carried on because I knew there was no shortage of things to do.

I also think about those who manage to keep their motivation even in the most trying of circumstances.

A good chunk of this website was borne out of me wanting to talk more about my love for film, and to this day I credit my grandpa and two squabbling film critics from here in Chicago.

Yet when Gene Siskel was diagnosed with and started receiving treatment for the cancer that would eventually claim his life in February 1999, he continued not only to publish his written reviews for the Chicago Tribune, but also do his on-camera reviews for Siskel & Ebert up until the very end, even phoning in reviews from his hospital bed in 1998. The same can be said for Roger Ebert during his battles with cancer that would ultimately rob him of his voice, but did he let that stop him? Nope, he continued right on with his reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times and his own website, as well as working behind the scenes on several other projects and his signature film festival in downstate Illinois.

And of course, there’s my grandpa’s perseverance or stubbornness during his own battle with cancer, but that’s for another time.

Even on days I gripe, grumble, and groan about my job, the truth is that I really do enjoy what I do; whether it be my day-to-day IT job or seeing and talking about a new movie, even when I’m at a low point, I do my best to carry on because if Gene, Roger, and my grandpa could do so and try to make their own days brighter, why can’t I?

I also think of a phrase I heard on SportsCenter recently, of all places: “Success is the best revenge.”

The phrase was used in a tweet by an athlete – whose name, natch, I can’t remember as I’m writing this – who was labeled as a future felon, failure, etc. and instead went on to play in the big leagues. If I find that tweet, I’ll embed it here, but the point remains the same regardless.

Back in the day, there was no shortage of people who doubted I would amount to much, and I can say with absolute certainty that their doubt, hatred, whatever – that did light a fire under me, one that burns pretty strong to this day. There is a bit of a schadenfreude aspect to it, I will admit, but I can only hope that those people have matured along the way.

Maybe they too have a motivational flame under them that keeps them going in trying times. I can at least hope so, right? Right.