First published May 28, 2016
Looking back, if I have anything to apologize for, it’s that never apologized for anything. I did what I wanted, what I had to. If people were hurt or inconvenienced by the way I lived, this was their problem to solve. I couldn’t be responsible for the feelings or well-being of others. Should I have pulled back on the reigns of my ambition for fear of stepping on the toes of those who did not want to win as badly as I? Should I have kept promises which no longer suited me, for fear of shattering someone else’s dreams? (Simply being able to shatter the dreams of others made me feel powerful!) Should I have allowed myself be weak so as to give space to those who were not as strong? To do any of those things would have compromised who I was and who I was determined to become.
Others hesitated for such sentimental reasons, and consequently lost ground. Greatness requires a monomaniacal fixation on the prize. One misstep, one falsely placed trust, one momentary glance away from the path, and it might all crumble; the fractured shatters of ambition tramped upon indifferently, like long-neglected Roman ruins.
The best game is at the top. There you meet others who are as good and as determined as you are. Maybe more so. Players are steeled for a fight to the death. Dying is better than achieving that height without finally taking the prize. Each, willing to die for the glory of standing in the rarefied air at the top of the peak. Each, willing to kill for the privilege of being able to look down and survey the land below, knowing everything and everyone belongs to them.
It was in this struggle that I felt most alive.
The urge drove me like a ravenous, heartless beast.
Most humans don’t have the stomach for this game. They do their best to stay out of the way of people like me. Little fish, schooling together, believing that in numbers and anonymity, they will better their odds of surviving the inevitable shark attack.
Most, even those with a fair amount of ambition, are limited by their unwillingness to sacrifice everything else in order to play The Big Game. They are unwilling to take what they want. Only those who take, get. They are unwilling to compromise their so-called morals.
I had only one moral: Win at any cost.
And so I did.
I lived for years at the top of the mountain, self-glorified and in absolute belief that I was deserving of my lofty place. I never fell from grace; I died of old age at the pinnacle.
Only then did I understand what I had missed by not living in the valley below.