Do you know what it feels like to be certain that nothing can stop you?
It’s a moment of winning. Time slows down. It’s the sudden feeling that all is right with your world. It’s the certainty that you could do anything in that instant. That nothing could stop you. That you are in such a state of perfect harmony with something in the universe that God is pleased with you.
I live for those moments. I crave those experiences just as much as a junkie needs a hit of his drug. In those rare moments of seeming perfection, I feel as though I am good enough — and that I can do anything.
I felt that way one Saturday morning 15 years ago. I was at a film festival and my short film was about to be shown to an audience for the very first time. It was a large crowd, maybe 500 or so, I suppose. I was nervous. The audience had seemed bored during the films before it. Maybe this was a tough crowd.
And then my film started.
After a minute or so of build up, we got to the first joke. The audience laughed. Over the next 10 minutes, the audience roared with laughter at all the right parts. They clapped at parts. And when it was over, the applause was more than just polite. They loved it.
I felt as though I was about 50 feet tall. I felt unstoppable. I felt perfect.
I knew I had made a film that was as good as I was capable of at the time. I had hoped the audience would enjoy it enough and would forgive the flaws of a first-time director on a limited budget. Yet the reaction was far better than anything I had hoped for.
And I was on an emotional high that I can’t put into words.
I felt the same thing when I launched a brand new newspaper when I was 27 or 28 years old. After months of preparation and struggle, I stood at the end of a massive printing press checking copies of that first edition. Almost every small newspaper in the market looked boring and vaguely amateur. Mine looked and read like a metro daily, at least close enough for me.
I knew I had hit a home run. It was a win. And in the next couple of days, everybody who saw it raved about it and seemed stunned at what I’d done. It was another emotional high.
I could tell you dozens of tiny stories that are similar. Every one of them would be meaningful and emotional to me, but I won’t belabor the point.
They’re emotional snapshots of winning in my mind. They’re the highs of things I’ve done that I knew were good. They were things that made me feel great. Some of them were at newspapers. Some were experiences of winning on election nights when I had helped a nobody pull off a stunning and unexpected political win.
Some of them are smaller. They can come to me in any moment when I know I’ve done something — or I’m in the middle of doing something — that feels as though everything has come together. That I’m doing some small great thing, even though that sounds like a contradiction.
I experienced it a couple of nights ago as I edited a photo. It wasn’t even an important photo that a lot of people were going to see. But everything about it was perfect. I had seen something amazing in my mind’s eye when I aimed the camera. And then I carefully edited the photo, first in Lightroom and then in Photoshop, to achieve the look I wanted.
Nobody else would care. Nobody else will ever know. But in that moment, the work I did felt completely right. I felt as though I was great, because I had done something that felt so right.
I can have this experience in a romantic relationship. In a moment when I do something for a woman — someone who I love dearly — that I know means something to her, I experience that state. When I simply do something to make a woman happy when I love her, that puts me into that experience of feeling an emotional high.
I’ve always thought I would feel the same way at the birth of a child. I’ve thought I would feel that as I helped lovingly guide that child through the experiences of life and as that child starts experiencing his or her own wins. I can’t imagine feeling anything less than that high under those circumstances.
What I’m talking about is an internal feeling of rightness that says I’ve done the absolutely correct thing. It’s a knowing on a gut level. It’s a very good thing. Maybe even a great thing. It’s an inner certainty, like a spiritual awareness rising in me. It’s like worship.
Some people live for the pursuit of money or material things. Some people live for collecting trophies. I live for the pursuit of these emotional and spiritual highs.
I don’t get those from living a mundane life. I only get them — at least the big ones — from pursuing big things.
I think this is why I love winners and competent people and satisfying emotional relationships. They all make me feel great. They all make me feel as though I’m reaching for something — and connecting with something — far greater than me.
And I desperately crave this feeling right now.