Broken, bruised and out of breath and yet, a rush of emotions cannot help but engulf him. He closes his eyes and visualizes his time coming.
The screaming fans, drowned by his own heartbeat...it is in these moments that the world truly stands still for him, and him alone.
He is aching all over; it seems as if the pain will never go away and he must submit, but he must also fight.
Fight to keep the dream alive.
But when will it come?
His mind betrays him, constantly disheartens him, telling him that he does not have what it takes to make it to the top of the mountain.
He opens his eyes, to realize that he isn't dreaming anymore.
Those three seconds; they felt like an eternity.
He’s here; he looks around to see the fans on their feet, in awe, with tears in their eyes. As his eyes start to focus, his arm is hoisted into the air and he is awarded the championship.
He has made it.
Only he knows how long this journey has been; only he truly knows of the trials, only he has counted the years, the minutes, and the mere seconds to this very mountain.
It’s the perfect story, isn’t it?
It is perfect in every way—think about it as if you were standing in the very wrestler’s boots.
You start off as, perhaps, the conniving, brash and arrogant wrestler who thinks he should have the entire world handed to him at the click of his fingers and rest assured, he will do whatever he can to keep this world to himself.
He will do whatever he can to keep his dream and your nightmare alive.
Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.
Over time, your audience becomes aware of your presence, the way you command attention every time you walk down that ramp or perhaps the swiftness of your movements in the ring, but you catch the attention of everyone around you.
Therein comes your chance to test your mettle against the very best and you fall short of defeating your enemy, be it the opponent whose arm is being raised in victory bearing down on you menacingly or be it the inner demons you have yet to fully understand and conquer.
Week after week, you are slammed into the mat repeatedly until something changes inside you. You want to be the one with his feet on the mat rather than be the helpless piece of crap on the floor and so you dig deep inside to overcome your adversary.
One, two, three.
Three seconds; that’s what it took.
That was all the motivation you needed to look inside you to find not only strength, but the courage and confidence to fight to live.
To live your dream.
And now, your hand is raised and the energy has changed around you. The nation is on its feet, cheering you valiantly for your hard fought contest.
It’s truly mesmerizing to transform from an evil entity to a valiant warrior.
And now, nothing can stop you. You keep building momentum, week after week, and the cheers get louder because you give it your all and you are on the flipside of the coin.
You’re the underdog now.
But there’s a long road to the gates of victory.
There is doubt, a lot of it.
There is fear that any moment, one false move, one ill-timed jump and it will all be over.
The crowd calls my name!
They shout for me! They fight for me! They want the boyhood dream to come true!
They want me to seize the title in my hands.
You must go forward because there is no time to doubt yourself; they call you the greatest so you must become the greatest.
You survived the avalanche of 29 other men, who could possibly stop you now?
Time, the old enemy it was to you, when you counted the seconds to your ultimate ascension, befriended another.
Time made him into what he has become today: Your rival.
The only difference between you and him that matters is that he has what you desire the most.
And so, you jump headfirst into the torrent of chaos, giving it everything you have, going blow for blow, matching move for move, giving back as much as you get.
You have studied his every move and he has every one of yours as well. He is the very best, he has a belt to prove it but so can you.
All you have to do is beat him at his own game.
It doesn’t feel like it is the first time you have met within the sacred squared circle; it’s as if you’ve been wrestling him your entire life, every time you stepped in between the ropes.
It feels as if you’ve been at war forever.
It is as if your demons had taken the form of the man who stands before you and is taunting you, begging you to destroy him.
But in a moment, everything can change and you could be defeated in the blink of an eye. Doubt comes creeping back into your being to fuel your pain, to magnify it and make it even more unbearable.
You’re almost there! Do not break!
Do not tap!
Close your eyes and picture the moment—ignore the pain and concentrate! The moment! It can be yours but you have to do what no one else has had the guts to do! You must be resilient! You must be defiant! To the very end!
They chant your name! The people, the very people who once deemed you the nightmare want you to live your dream!
Now, get up.
Get up…and live your dream.
A quick reversal, a swift kick…1…2…3!
Those three seconds; they felt like an eternity.
From Rocky Balboa to our very own Shawn Michaels, the ultimate underdog story has always worked and worked wonders for those involved.
The build made the pay-off, however predictable, worth it all.
It was worth watching him struggle, watching him try and fail and getting back up to try again, with not even a hint of regret in his piercing eyes.
And for the first time you notice that perhaps, he has never truly slept the sleep of a man at peace ever since he stepped in the ring for the first time, desperate to be great, eager to be perfect in every way—and now he is.
Now, he is the best and the title around his waist is proof of that.
The build has made his victory mean something so much more than a quick roll-up because he is recognized as the warrior who fought and clawed his way to the top.
It has made his victory that much sweeter.
And so I ask: Where is the boyhood dream now?
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