This story isn’t mine, but I love it. Whenever I hit that feeling that we’re all familiar with, that feeling on the edge of my comfort zone, I remember…
…always swim with bull sharks.
A friend of a friend from a long time ago took a healthy living kick seriously in a good way. What began as replacing junk food with greens and running a few times a week evolved into a permanent change to a healthy life, completely with competition running and triathlons.
Most of his workouts took place in the early AM, before work. That time of day when motivation is the predominant factor in success and completion. Lucky for him, he worked with a gym addict. A US Navy SEAL.
When the SEAL found out this guy was running and swimming every morning, the SEAL thought it pretty admirable and opportunity for a training buddy, so he offered to train the triathlete. This fella, the triathlete saw being trained by a SEAL as a total win, if he wanted to take his training to the next level, so he accepted.
Fast forward ahead months. The friend’s workouts had kicked up a notch in a way he hadn’t expected, training with a very disciplined and battle hardened sea warrior whose ethos was all about pushing the limits. Though the triathlete valued the opportunity, he couldn’t take it anymore. He realized this as he rolled over to his alarm for the routine 4AM workout session. He had enough.
He called the SEAL and said, “Hey man, I’m tired and sick. I don’t know if I have enough to make it through today’s workout and swim safely. I need today off. We’ll try again later this week.”
There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment…and then a husky voice broke through:
“Whatever you want. But would you rather die in a nursing home of ass cancer at 80 years old thinking of the opportunities you had to really live but skipped because you decided to sleep instead or would you rather risk it, fight through, and give yourself something to be proud? Maybe even go down fighting. Your call.”
And with that…the guy decided to get up, run, and swim.
One month later, the SEAL and the triathlete were doing their normal workout, swimming in the estuaries of Virginia that connect with the ocean. Normally the guy and the SEAL swam side by side pushing each other’s paces. All of a sudden, the triathlete heard someone yelling and a boat, and the SEAL wasn’t next to him in the water.
“Get on the boat. Get on the damn boat!” The SEAL was yelling from a small boat that pulled up. “GET ON THE DAMN BOAT!”
The Triathlete looked up confused, and then the Captain ran out.
“Yes, please get on the boat.” The captain said as he threw a line out and started to tell the story…
A shark had been spotted that actually swam from the ocean upstream into the rivers. Bull sharks are one of the few sharks that actually live up to the stereotypes and will bite a mofo.
The guy starts to swim towards the boat, getting ready to climb out of the frigid waters and stops.
The SEAL calls out to him again, “What are you doing? Get in the damn boat!”
The triathlete smiled back and said, “Would you rather go down dying of ass cancer in a nursing at 80, or would you rather go down like a man, fighting off a bull shark? Your call”
The SEAL looked over at the captain, who shrugged, and jumped in the water.
You have one life. You can save it, be safe, be risk averse, and live forever in tranquility, comfort, and peace, with no real memories to look back on in your final days.
Or, you can swim with bull sharks and use the life you were given. You may go down in the fight. You may live with the glory of the memories. In any case, you’ll have used this life as much as you could.
If you live for adventure, then acknowledge that and respect it.
…and always swim with bull sharks.