The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.


Two and a half decades ago I got involved in competitive paintball. Back then most of our competitive venues were outdoor woodsball fields. Play was pretty fast with five-man a side teams but nothing compared to the intensity of the speedball fields of today. We were also shooting mechanicals which while capable of shooting ropes of paint, were nowhere near the rates of fire you can send today with some of the modern electros.

The thing is, when you play paintball, especially tournament ball, you accept that there is going to be a certain amount of pain you will experience. Your opponents will keep shooting you until you raise your hand and call yourself out. The difference between experienced players and new players is their acceptance of this. New players have a tendency to camp. That is they sit in one spot and shoot into the fray as opposed to moving on the field and looking for their targets. It’s not a bad tactic but once your opponent figures out where you are, you really are only seconds from being out. Of course moving on the field a lot does expose you to a lot more fire but it’s harder to hit a moving target that a stationary one.

There have been more than a few times for me on a paintball field were my choice was clear, kick up my aggression level to 11 or stay in place and take what was coming to me. Each time I chose the more aggressive approach, it worked out well for me. You can draw from that whatever metaphor you want but I think it speaks for itself.

It’s very easy in life to rest on your laurels and for most there is really nothing wrong with that. They’ve worked hard to build their skill set and their reputation amongst their peers and they’re sort of reaping the rewards of that. Good for them. But there are those of us who always want a little bit more, to go a little bit further. We’ve accepted the fundamental that it’s going to hurt at some point but we are going to take the pain, move through it and move on.

You get used to the coppery taste of fear in your mouth and you learn to ignore those sidelong glances of the people you know who just don’t understand what’s driving you forward. You get used to the veiled smiles but while the people you’re talking to enjoy what you’re telling them, (after all it is a hell of a good story) but behind their eyes you can see they think you’re totally nuts. They could be right but really who cares. You did the thing, whatever that thing was and no matter what, nobody can take that away from you.

Fear is just your body and brain’ s avoidance tactic to avert pain either physical or mental. The core you wants to maintain equilibrium, it doesn’t want to rock the boat and it doesn’t want you to be the tall poppy either. The unknown scares the literal shit out of it. The only way I know of overcoming the unknown is to make it the known. And the only way I know to do that is to keep doing something until you’re good at it. There is no such thing as an overnight success but I firmly believe in that 10,000 hours or your half-million words of shit. My dad was a pretty good classical guitarist and he didn’t get there by just sitting on his ass. I can barely strum a cord much as I’d like to learn how to play the guitar decently but I write pretty well my lack of guitar virtuosity aside.

Guess what I’m trying to say is know it’s going to hurt, do it anyway. Over and over and over again until the become so ingrained, so much a part of you that no matter what they try and you know who they are, their rounds just slip on by and you move through them to your final goal, whatever that may be.


You can find my thrillers Devil’s Gambit and Reliance on Amazon in both print and for Kindle and you can find out more about me on my Author page.

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