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Soulful Sundays: Ante Up

“I believe the cost of life is death and we will all pay that in full. Everything else should be a gift.” -Bill Hicks

Every cut and scrape, every punch on the chin, every lost bet or frivolous expense, every undeserved punishment or unintended consequence-they are all part of playing the game of life. No one makes it out alive anyway. There can be no gain without some amount of risk. When we grasp the importance of that reality then we can welcome the hardships as life's greatest teachers. Let me show you what I mean.

Once upon a time there lived a prince and a princess in a wonderful kingdom. Nothing bad ever happened. They fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever after. The end. Have you ever heard a fairy tale like this one? No. Every (meaningful) story ever told involves some degree of struggle, conflict, internal doubt, transformation, and eventual resolution. These are the building blocks of good stories because they mirror the building blocks of a good life. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We live in a world that has every potential of feeling hermetically sealed. We don't want to confront the bully in the playground, so we run to the teachers. We don't want to have face-to-face interactions with real people so we text or use social media instead. We don't want to quit a job that is killing us, so we buy some expensive distractions. We can't face leaving a bad relationship, so we avoid having difficult conversations. We are afraid of our past, so we turn to addictions. There are an infinite number of ways of avoiding the right path, but only one way to actually do what's right.

When we choose to "ante up" in our lives it means we choose to plant both feet firmly in the arena. No more half-commitments or riding the fences. There is something that we believe in, and it is worth all of the risk that comes with it. When we do feel resistance along the way to our goals, we can remind ourselves that that is exactly what should be happening. The obstacles that we encounter are the very teachers that we will use to overcome them. That busted toe, failed business plan, or broken heart are all badges of having tried something hard. Take them in, embrace them, and change something meaningful next time.

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