Matt's Words of Wisdom
Life Is Long
Throughout his life, Steven Pressfield worked 21 different jobs in eleven states.
He taught school, drove tractor-trailers, worked in advertising and as a screenwriter in Hollywood, worked on offshore oil rigs, and picked fruit as a migrant worker.
Many times he was homeless and living out of his car.
In his free time he’d work on novels and screenplays. For 27 years no one bought his work.
Then, at the ripe age of 53 years old, Pressfield was given a chance.
A publishing house bought his novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance.
It became a hit.
It was made into a movie featuring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron.
Pressfield would go on to write 15 more books, a few of them best sellers.
Today he’s 77.
A few weeks ago he was a guest on the Tim Ferriss podcast.
At the end of the interview, Ferriss asked him, “If you had a billboard to get a message out to billions of people, what might you put on that billboard?”
Pressfield answered, “Life Is Long.”
He went on to explain, “They always tell you life is short but actually life is long. And if we find ourselves making mistakes or we haven’t yet found our calling, don’t drive yourself crazy with that. There’s plenty of time. Everybody thinks, ‘If I don’t do it in the next six months I’m going to kill myself.' And I thought that too forever. But look at me. It took me forever to break through into anything and I still feel like I’ve got a whole other lifetime ahead of me...So be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You’re on a journey whether you realize it or not. We all are. There’s no way not to be. And things will reveal themselves as they go."
This resonated with me.
In ten days I’ll turn 29 years old.
I used to dread approaching thirty. It was this signpost that screamed, “Mortality!!!”
There was a paranoid urgency to living. I have to achieve this! I have to do that! I have to travel there! Now, now, now!
Everything felt so rushed. I was rarely present. I wanted to cross items off a list more than I wanted to live them.
Despite this urgency, I realized that I wouldn’t achieve half of what I set out to do by 30.
But now, I’m no longer bothered by it. This upcoming birthday feels different. I’m less freaked out than ever before.
There’s a calm that’s passed over me recently.
I’m starting to lean into the idea that life is long. That great things take time. That following my curiosity is more important than hitting vanity metrics. That everyone is on their own timeline and there’s no need to compare.
We have this false idea that we can’t be creative or spontaneous or live an exciting life after we leave our 20s. So we try to shove it all in one decade. It becomes this race against time. Like sprinting in the first mile of a marathon thinking the first mile is all there is.
Yet I continue to meet people decades older than me who contradict that youthful anxiety.
My friend and mentor Rich Roll once said, “I didn't reach my athletic peak until I was 43. I didn't write my first book until I was 44. I didn't start my podcast until I was 45. At 30, I thought my life was over. At 52 I know it's just beginning."
So, if you’re stressed out about where you’re at, take a breather.
You’re going to be alright.
You’ll do that thing. You’ll meet that person. You’ll go to that place.
Maybe not right now. But when it’s right.
Relax into your life and let it unfold before you.