Dad at 40

Fitness, Nutrition, Parenting, and Life

Fitness and Life – A Game of Inches

So, as I pondered what particular topic I wanted to write about next – proteins, stacks, workouts, motivation, and a host of other topics, my mind kept coming back to this idea, this belief that our lives are all about acquiring inches to move forward.

Thus, I want to share a speech with you. It is a completely fictional movie speech (Any Given Sunday), although rumor is it was based off a real speech. For me, it is a metaphor for so much more than football. It has resonated with me for a long time now (and for this blog, I have changed it a bit to reflect the reality that we all face – my changes to the original are in red):

I don’t know what to say, really. You are facing the biggest battle of your lifeand it all comes down to this moment. And either you heal yourself… or you’re going to crumble. Inch by inch, moment by moment, until you’re finished.

You’re in hell right now. Believe me. And you can stay here and get the shit kicked out of you, or you can fight your way back into the light. You can climb out of hell. One inch at a time.

Now, I can’t do it for you. I’m too old and that is not my job. I look around, I see your faces and I think … I mean, I made every wrong choice a person could make. I have been irresponsible with my money, believe it or not. I have chased off people who’ve loved me. And sometimes, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know when you get older in life, things get taken from you. That’s — that’s part of life. But you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches.

Because in life, the margin for error is so small … I mean, one half-a-step too late or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast, you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of this life, every minute, every second.

In your life, you fight for that inch. In this life, you tear yourself and everyone else around you to pieces for that inch. You CLAW with your fingernails for that inch.

Because you know when you add up all those inches, that’s going to make the fuckin’ difference between WINNING and LOSING! Between LIVING and DYING!

I’ll tell you this — in any fight, it’s the person who’s willing to die who’s going to win that inch. And I know if I’m going to have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what LIVING is! The 6 inches in front of your face!

Now, I can’t make you do it. You have to look at the person staring at you in the mirror. Look into those eyes. Now, I think you’re going to see a person who will go that inch with you. You’re going to see a person who will sacrifice themselves because they know when it comes down to it, you’re going to do what it takes to get that inch.

That is your life, people. And either you heal now…. or you will die alone. That’s it, folks. That’s life. That’s all it is. Now, what are you going to do?

This was a great speech delivered by Al Pacino (one of my favorites) and the power with which he delivered it was amazing. The first time I heard it, it had little impact on me because it was just a movie and I was too busy fighting my own demons to understand what it really meant. But, as I heard it over and over, it started to take on a completely different meaning for me. It became less about football and more about life. I was always trying to go for the big score. Trying to get the proverbial heroic touchdown or slam dunk. Every moment I spent trying to get that was a moment I sacrificed on the fundamentals of my life and health. I kept putting off for tomorrow what I could do today. I kept ignoring the inch in front of me hoping that I could take a foot or a mile!

And as I got older, I gained wisdom. Slowly. Painfully. I gained focus and resolve. I realized I had only this life to make a difference. To change myself and maybe, just maybe, change others for the better. And that despite losing so many inches while chasing a mile, I could still claw those inches out. They were still all around me.

It starts with yourself. Heal yourself. Put your demons to rest. For some, it is easier than others. I am not a therapist, but I can tell you that you have to want to move forward. We all need to put our energy into breaking free from that which holds us back so we can claim that first inch.

It starts so small….a tiny hint of movement. It is barely perceptible. We have all probably felt like we are stuck, not moving forward at all, even moving backwards. But, if you keep working hard and believing in yourself, you’ll get that forward movement. I am not saying that living a healthy life will solve all your problems, but it is something you control – you own. You can fight for those inches. You can claw for those inches. You can change yourself and see results. Yes, you will stumble and fall. You will have setbacks. But ultimately, you can and will prevail. And as you stand there victorious, you will realize you have the strength to conquer so much more.

And it doesn’t take anything fancy. Just willpower and dedication and desire. You just have to commit. You have to truly claw and fight for each inch. And that is why this speech resonates so much for me.

We succeed not because life dropped success in our laps. We succeed because we clawed for it. We fought for it. And when we finally stopped feeling sorry for ourselves and started focusing on what we needed, it changed us for the better. It is important to be a part of a team, and friends and support helps. But, we have to be prepared to go at it alone. We have to fight for our lives with our last breath.

Because you know when you add up all those inches, that’s going to make the fuckin’ difference between WINNING and LOSING! Between LIVING and DYING!”

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