The 2010 World Series of Poker ends tomorrow with the final table. I'll be rooting for Mike "The Grinder" Mizrachi. He chose the nickname himself because it typifies his style of play - sometimes up, sometimes down, but always moving on to the next hand, the next pot, and the next table. He goes into every tournament with that mentality: There's going to be good days and bad days, but at the end, I'll still be sticking around.
I think this is a good philosophy to have, not just for poker, but for life. Last night, Ace and I went to see Race Across the Sky, the movie about the 2010 Leadville 100, a grueling 100 mile mountain bike race over punishing terrain, won this year by Levi Leipheimer, Tour de France competitor and three-time Tour of California winner. All of the athletes talked about how it was mostly a mental game. You had to push yourself to do more than you thought you could. The motto of the event, reflecting on the mining roots of the town, was "dig deep".
But it could just as well have been "keep going" (or, if you prefer, Niner Bikes' "pedal damn it"). The movie was filled with a hard rock/rap soundtrack to keep everyone pumped up, but I thought that the best scene of the movie was one with no music. A nameless competitor was slogging his way up the Power Line climb, 80 miles into the race and completely exhausted. He had long since abandoned pedaling his bike and was walking beside it, pushing it up the hill next to him, hunched over the handlebars, back parallel to the ground. Finally, when he couldn't take it anymore, he dropped his bike and collapsed in a pile next to the trail. Ten seconds later, he sat up, draped his arms over his knees and just looked at the ground. He sat like that, in silence, for about 45 seconds (which seems like an eternity in a movie). Then, he got up, dusted himself off, and resumed pushing his bike up the hill.
I don't think they ever identified him, showed his time, or let us know if he even finished, but that moment stuck out to me. This guy was physically exhausted and thoroughly beat down. He must have felt like total shit. But he was able to sit down, collect his thoughts, get himself into the right frame of mind, and get back to the grind.
I'm going to make an attempt to incorporate that mentality into my life. Sometimes it seems like life is completely shitty. Like everything is going against you, and you don't even care anymore. It would be easy to just give up. To throw up your hands and say, "I'm done", and completely extricate yourself from a situation. But that's not what you want to do. You want to keep going. You want to grind it out.
Because some things are worth fighting for.