In my mind, my late father is the single greatest example of sublimating adversity and struggle into success (the saying goes, “greatness is rarely achieved without previous pain”). He grew up, dirt poor, with seven brothers and two sisters. He ate stale bread and had to share his brothers’ disproportionately sized clothing. His family struggled and he strived to be the best version of himself every day. My dad drank his first sip of alcohol when he was 12, and he also began dipping tobacco around that time. He knew what struggle, adversity and pain looked like. He made straight A’s in school but was never given the opportunity to attend college, nor could he afford it. He began working at his uncle Rex’s fruit stand after he graduated from high school in the early 1970s and married my mother in 1976. Through hard work, he eventually started up his own business, which became an extremely successful one thanks to his charisma and confidence.
My dad is my hero. He went through all of that and made something out of himself. I grew up very spoiled; I can genuinely say that during my childhood that I received any and everything I ever wanted. During that time, my dad gave me a lot of advice and taught me a lot about how to be a man. He constantly stressed the importance of chasing my dreams and not listening to jealous detractors. He placed an importance on hard work and persistence when it comes to achieving goals. But then he passed away.
I know pain and I know loss. I do NOT know of the struggle and adversity that he went through, but I know of many different kinds of adversity related to disappointment and loss, and adjusting and change. You’ll see where I’m going with this in a moment. I wish I could have had more time with my dad in my life, because there are so many questions I want to ask and so much wisdom that I’d like to accrue. He was an amazing dad, so calm and patient, he never yelled, and he was always cool, confident and collected no matter what. In anything, he always taught the fundamentals (this explains our fanhood of Mr. Fundamental himself, from the NBA, Tim Duncan!). He had an amazing sense of humor, too; when he was dying, and in so much pain, he was even joking to the nurses. I hope that I have at least one-fourth of his charisma, confidence and sense of humor, because that, alone, would be more than most people in the world have. I could have really used his sage advice in the years 2010-2013, which turned out to be — up to this point — the most stressful and painful years I’ve ever endured.
No one ever achieves anything from happiness. Think about that for a moment. Ever heard of the saying, “satisfaction is the death of desire”? It’s true. Happiness breeds complacency. But don’t get the word “happiness” confused with a state of peace or another word, “appreciation”, and I am NOT saying that happiness is bad per se; I am saying that a state of happiness does not elicit you to rise up and improve.
I laugh when I hear people say that, “Happiness is a choice”. The people that emit that phrase have good intentions, but it’s not exactly true in that pure, direct sense. Your thoughts (what you think about), your state of mind and the way you frame your perception of situations and scenarios IS a choice, but happiness itself? It’s sparked through a series of events. Happiness is NOT a choice; it’s a fleeting, temperamental feeling that is created from a series of choices fueled by the aforementioned things.
I was the happiest human being in the world in the years 2008 and 2009. Many things took place in those two years to arrive to that feeling, but it was a human being that entered my life in the summer of 2008 that I had immediately chemistry with who’s the catalyst and reason behind the way I felt. She and I instantly connected and had what was a once in the lifetime kind of chemistry. We entered what was to be a long-term relationship that had so much potential and promise. I put her on a pedestal; I couldn’t help myself. She blew my mind and rocked my world, to use two common cliches.
I will try not to write a lot about the relationship, but given the time, I could write a book or three on everything that happened (however, that’s unnecessary).
We bulldozed through a lot of outside-created adversity. But no matter what, our relationship subsisted, prevailed and only grew stronger as time ensued.
During that time period — the amazing years that were 2008 and 2009 — I mentioned earlier that I was happy. That’s an understatement. I was ecstatic. I was also complacent, or I became so. The self-motivated hunger that I wielded and experienced before we met no longer existed in the same facet.
In 2010, however, things changed (I don’t want to get into it); a chain of events eventually relegated to the end of the relationship by the very end of the year 2011. Her smoldering dishonesty and uncalled-for unfaithfulness, immature jealousy and selfish actions led to the demise of a once great and special thing that we shared. When all was said and done, she said to me, “Troy, I do not deserve you“, and she’s 110% right in that assertion. She backed up that statement by then getting into a relationship, essentially downgrading, with an unremarkable, subpar, substandard and thus inferior, dime a dozen bumrat schmuck and procreating with him. In my eyes, she went from being with the cream of the crop (me) to the bottom of the barrel.
I did everything for her — I took care of her during the most difficult time period of her life, influenced her to be happy and encouraged her to follow her happiness and dreams each and every single day. Most of all, I loved her and cared about her immensely, more than I ever have with/for anybody, and she ruined it, destroyed it all and threw the relationship away like a spoiled brat of a kid that got tired of playing with a toy. The relationship should have never ended. I DO NOT regret anything about the years 2008 and 2009, but I DO regret every single second of 2010-2011. The fact that she promised me, and told me each and every single day for nearly three years of my life, that we’d “name our first born baby boy” after my late father and I, and then she turned around, betrayed me and ultimately semi-fulfilled such a thing with an inferior person… that murdered my trust and is another source of my incandescent anger and pain that she’d do something so selfish and idiotic. But the payback/revenge is set in stone — she’ll have to live the remainder of her life knowing that she messed things up with the best thing she’s ever had and ultimately settled for something subpar.
Yes, she stated the fact that she does not deserve me, and again, she’s correct as it is a fact, and she downgraded to a lesser-in-quality person, and that’s a veritable truth, but that’s besides the point. She regressed as a human being. The resulting pain and anger that I have felt from all that has happened has felt, at times, to be insurmountable, and I’ve — many times — allowed it all to engulf my mind, my heart and my thoughts. I really wish that my dad was alive, especially for 2010-2013 during the extreme inner torment and pain that I endured, because the invaluable advice he could and would have gave me over the entire situation would have been more appreciated than any kind I can imagine. I’ve often thought about what he’d say, and what words of wisdom he’d dispense over what happened with she and I, and sometimes — despite the outrageous disappointment and resulting pain (I’m overusing the word “pain”, but I can’t help it as it very much applies) — I have to laugh, because I’m sure he would have provided comic relief with some kind of humorous adage to describe everything and tell me something as crude as, “You should be a 6’3″, pussy slaying machine and, instead, you are wallowing in a rut and worrying about somebody who should be irrelevant and insignificant in every form to you”. I dream about my dad a lot, and those dreams entail a lot of advice, but then I wake up and realize it’s advice that’s only been fabricated by my brain.
I’ve since used the anger and pain as sublimation to and for positive pursuits and goals, but I’ve also realized that doing such a thing provides a massive catch-22: despite using the anger and pain as a motivation, it also reinforces her and her actions in my head, each and every day, and despite the things in my life that have improved as a result, I’m enforcing a perpetual, internal whirlwind of hell in my heart and mind, because the anger and pain continues to enrapture me. I never received absolute closure from her — just half-assed answers, invalid excuses and insincere apologies, but I’ve also realized that closure DOES NOT come from somebody else, it comes from within.
Sublimating anger and pain is supposed to be temporary, and I’ll get to my reasoning for such rationale in a moment. Focusing on anger and pain is as exhausting and debilitating as it gets. You have to exert so much energy into thinking about such things, and it will consume you and bring you to a hellish place. The time spent on such emotions is a wasted one, so why do we — a solid percentage of the human race — do it? I’m not sure. Why do I — Troy Sparks — do it? Psychologically, I have no idea. Perhaps it’s easier to engage and say, “Hi” to such emotions, because I can validate why I feel them, and it’s hard to let go, because I’m letting go of something that’s made me who I am today, albeit oftentimes I dislike myself and become disparaged from the way I still think about the past. I loved her so much and thought so highly of her, and ultimately fell upon disappointment at the turnout.
I say that sublimating anger and pain into [a] positive pursuit(s) is supposed to be temporary because of the fact that they are emotions that zap your energy. You can use anger and pain as motivation only for so long before you wear yourself out. It’s not meant to be carried around for years of your life or else you will deplete yourself of energy and what’s supposed to be used to propel you.
It’s all adversity, at the end of the day, and it’s driving me. I’m driven, and I’ve always been a passionate person, but drive and passion need to be accompanied with more things, like planning, the writing down (pen to paper style) of goals and self-reinforcement.
All the time I’ve spent thinking about her, the past, what she did and how she acted so nonchalant about her actions of deceit and betrayal is a complete waste of time, as it serves nothing positive OR constructive to the current state of my life. It’s been a struggle, but here I am in 2014, better than I’ve ever been.
Am I happy with myself right now? With my life? With the way things are?
No, not right now, and I’m not sure when I’ll be.
I’m driven by a couple of things. First, by the desire of success. I’m ultra-competitive, and I dare any of you reading to go out and find somebody more competitive and passionate than yours truly. I crave success and achievement, as milestones and benchmarks. I strive towards it, every day.
Second, fear. Fear is a powerful motivator. I’m scared to death of not accomplishing what I want in life. I’m so damn scared that it hurts, and that’s a good thing, to be so fearful of not doing something, that it forces me to go after what I want and do it. I am, by obvious reasons, an extension of my father (hell, we have the same name as I’m a junior), and I desire to be somebody he’d be proud of, and I’m fearful of not being that.
What I’m trying to say is, people don’t become successful because they wake up in a good mood and they feel great about what they are doing. People become successful from an inner struggle related to something they’ve been through or their environment, and they want out, and they want something more. They are scared to death of failing, because they don’t see it as a viable option, and don’t let anyone say that failing is not an option — failing is the easiest option there is, but the fear of failing forces us to be reluctant and resilient.
Some people are complacent with ‘where they are in life’ and are OK with not tapping into their full potential.
But that isn’t me. That will never be me. I don’t know, at this point, what would make me complacent even after accomplishing and achieving my goals and dreams, because there’s so much that I want — and I feel like I need — to do.
This is a non-sports post, but I needed to write this.