Both are pain, but one of them is sweet.
My father was a martial arts practitioner, a marathoner, and an amateur gymnast. He could hit a bulls-eye twice with a single hole. Yes, he was a sharp shooter as well, very sharp that he could make his second bullet pass through the same hole the first bullet made. I have seen it many times, but until now I’m still amazed!
He has other talents too. He could swim underwater for more than 3 minutes and resurface with a fresh fish, using only his “sibat” or arrow. He could drive more than ten hours straight. When he walk through the street he could make numerous mental pictures of the environment. When he reach the end of the street, he can tell you how many adults, how many male or female, how many children were there—and what they were wearing or doing. Amazing! How in the world was he able to do that?
That was my father. Unfortunately, none of those talents or skills were transferred to me. To his dismay, I have learned nothing of those tricks or magic. However, I have learned something from him that he wasn’t aware of.
For the few years that we’ve been together, I have learned how he was able to do those things. Oh I’m sorry, not how but why. With the countless conversations that we had, his secret principle gradually made it to the corners of my consciousness. After many years the secret did sink in.
He believed that in order for a person to achieve extraordinary things he needs to choose how he’s going to deal with pain: either he choose the pain of discipline or the pain of regret—regret because you did not discipline yourself.
You want to win the martial arts tournament but you don’t want to practice. You dream of loosing weight but you don’t sacrifice enough time to exercise. You want to pass the final exam but you don’t want to study. You want to win but you don’t want to discipline yourself. You want shortcut. You want free success.
“The process of self-discipline,” he said, “is painful. You don’t feel like getting up early in the morning to jog, but you force yourself. You really want to eat lots of ice cream and cakes but you restrain yourself temporarily. Sometimes you really don’t want to do things necessary for you to reach your dream. But those things are essential. Winning requires sacrifice, and that sacrifice is called self-discipline.”
Winning is not a gift. It is something you earned. It’s not free. You sacrifice something to gain it. You sacrifice your time, effort, attitude…you even sacrifice your fear by exercising faith.
Discipline is a form of pain. It’s the kind of pain that you choose. It’s a painful sacrifice!
On the other hand, if you don’t want to bother yourself with small sacrifices, if you don’t want to choose the little programmed pain of discipline, then you just have to wait. Sooner or later, another form of pain will be delivered to you do0r-to-door. You will be welcoming to the pain of regret!
Because you didn’t do some exercises, you remained fat, lack of practice gave you the lowest score in the tournament, lack of study gave you a failing grade. You are now experiencing another form of pain. You are now saying, “if only…”
But it’s a little bit late now.
Inevitability of Pain
Later in my early twenties, I have learned from a pastor that, “Pain is inevitable.” As normal humans, we will not be able to evade pain—for it will always be there. One way or another, pain will come to us. That’s given.
As I ponder over his words, it suddenly hit me. His teachings fortified my father’s secret.
My question years ago was answered.
“That’s why,” I realized, “My father always insisted that, I just have to choose which pain I would like to deal—the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Because pain is inevitable. My father was simply saying, “Because you cannot evade from the power of pain you better choose which pain you want to deal with.”
How I wish my father told me earlier that pain was indeed inevitable. But maybe he chose not tell me that truth because I was very young then, and the color of pain has not yet saturated my young mind’s reality, I haven’t learned the concept of pain more fully. However, as I grew in maturity, the realistic colors of pain gradually became a daily encounter—a daily reality.
Now I understand why my father was able to do those things that many of his friends couldn’t: he chose the pain of discipline by forcing himself to practice more and perfect his skill regardless of how he felt during the time of discipline. He concentrated on his objectives not his feelings.
How about you, which do you prefer, discipline or regret? They are both painful. Yet one of them is a “sweet pain.”