“I might not be more skilled than other scientists,” Albert Einstein said, “but I have the persistence of a mule.”
One of my favorite things to do when I’m not working toward various dreams is to read of individuals that have already walked into a new reality. Albert, an entertaining man to read about, is a man whose path inspires me everyday. I suppose that is a pretty normal thought for me to have, despite the fact that I don’t know a darn thing about the sciences anymore. In truth, even basic mathematical formulas–the Pythagorean Theorem, for example–have gone the way of the Tutu bird for me. It’ll be awhile before I recover these long lost equations from the webbed depths of my stubborn head.
Einstein’s quote struck a chord with me when I first read it. I feel, in an odd sort of way, connected to it. It has a deeper meaning that forces me to push myself just a bit harder. You should probably take my opinion to be of equal worth to a simple grain of salt, but since you’re reading I’ll gladly pull my pants down and explain. I’ll tell you more about my love for creative writing; I’ll attempt to explain how it became a passion of mine.
Maybe you’ll read into Albert’s quote the way I do afterward. You may walk away thinking about things differently, and that is okay too.
I thought it was a wise decision during my senior year as an undergraduate, when I really first started to write for pleasure, to read about those stars who, to me, were like Einstein.
I was looking for inspiration, as any child might.
Lovelace, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, Sigeru Miyomoto, Hugh Hefner, Edwin Armstrong, Musk, Buffett, Martin Luther King Jr., Lincoln, Washington, and Benjamin Franklin were some of the people that made the cut.
These individuals thrived not because they were granted the gift of ability; they succeeded rather because they had hearts of gold. I’m sure Benjamin would agree, the man who gave all the bread he had to a family in need the moment he reached the docks in Philadelphia. They also never gave up. I’m sure many would agree that Elon’s approach to creating such powerhouses as Tesla & SpaceX, PayPal, Zip2, and even a party house at the University of Pennsylvania are proof of that.
Im in debt to those who I’ve read about since my senior year. They’ve inspired me to always be happy, yet never satisfied. They’ve taught me that on any given day, I only know what I don’t know. That reality is in many ways a broken construct, defined by incomplete creatures called human beings.
I am certainly nothing like these inspiring folk, but I do aspire to grow personally throughout my life in a similar fashion to these idols of mine. I’m clearly not being shy about that right now.
While I do not feel comfortable laying judgement on myself, I will acknowledge that I’ve always been persistent. I’ve always had a lot of heart, maybe even too much heart. My last name has always been a good fit for me, you know? I was often the stubborn mule in my youth. Hell, I’m still a pretty stubborn guy in many ways.
As I’ve learned to take off my mask and put on my glasses I’ve decided that my family name should not represent stubbornness at all though, but rather pure, unadulterated willpower. Let me explain. I’ll try to make some sense here. If what I’m about to reveal doesn’t work as an explanation, well, then at least I can walk away saying I was certainly persistent in my efforts to convince my select readers why the first sentence of this paragraph matters.
My father would always say to my siblings and I Churchill’s famous quote; he’d whisper, “Never, ever give up.”
It’s a normal thing to say to an uninspired child, but the phrase went a little deeper than that for my brother, sister, and I. The quote still defines each of us in a different, unique way. Take for example during my little league days. I was as blind as a bat–near literally. In my career I had no more than four hits. That may be an overstatement. Ricky would walk up to me while in the batter’s box every time, despite my vision. “You can do this, my son,” he said.
I grew angry with him at the time. I was scared and without passion for, well, anything.
The narrative of my story changed in middle school. I was on the chubby side, still with my share of baby fat. I had finally been granted the gift of sight after a surgery; the doctors rewired my right eye.
Two football gurus eventually recruited me as one of the many students to participate in their program. My mother was scared silly when I told her I was aiming to make the team. I had never been any good at baseball, and I would sit in the middle of the soccer field to avoid any danger just a few years prior. I wanted to drink juice boxes instead; it was more fun to me than the thrill of being a striker.
For whatever reason, these coaches woke something up in me. I had discovered, for the first time, a passion, and so I persisted through their difficult drills. I went to practice everyday and then went home and practiced more. It is an old story told by many who are more athletic than I could ever wish to be, but the work paid off. I left the football program lighter by near twenty pounds. I began to develop something called confidence, too.
I was still fairly naive, but not once have I given up on what matters to me since my time there on that field in Fairless Hills. I still carry a piece of paper that was given to me by my coaches; we hereby grant Christopher Mulé the Dedication, Determination, and Drive Award. That recognition really meant something to me.
My stepfather, a career stonemason, then showed me through example what a persistent mindset can achieve. He never wavered in ten years of arduous labor to purchase over three hundred acres of land from a developer of which is now a state park of ten times the original size. I remember the ribbon cutting ceremony and how much the slice of a piece of thread had forever changed me. I began to mimic my stepfather, as any son would do, in an attempt to better myself. I wanted to persevere like he did, for the sake of my father’s favorite quote, so no trepidation or folly would ever strike me down again.
Naturally, I started to look for even more guidance and support. Now, this search of mine became more of a fervent passion, a second passion. Just like any other person, the mentors came and went from all different avenues of life and all sorts of places. There were teachers who carved a path for me. There was a school television station that opened me up to the creative world. There were fraternity brothers and sisters who taught me a great many things. There were authors from across the globe who encouraged me through their willingness to share their many gifts and talents. There were friends, siblings, and cousins who kept me very humble. There were aunts and uncles, grandparents too, who encouraged me when no one else would bother. I am still very lucky to have this support system to this day.
I had a corporate lawyer for a mother too, so snoozing was off the table.
My mother began a second career as the Associate Director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. I followed her there in the hopes to seek her guidance whenever trouble called at college. Our many coffee breaks were life saving.
I’ll mention briefly that during my first semester of freshmen year I had lost my father to a terrible illness. It took until this tragedy to put the work of my second passion to the test. I had finally learned of the power of his words in the purest sense during that time period. I persisted in his honor despite my every wish to crumble.
By my senior year, with my life more or less repaired, it became apparent that my grandfather had a wish that needed granting. He desired to know more of our family history and wanted to ensure that all of our stories remained in the family lore.
The history book that I started then has since been completed. It is to be given out this upcoming holiday season, but not before Grandpa Santore speaks to his audience and explains to those that he loves the importance of our connected stories.
In giving back to those that I love, my father watching from above, I was given an unexpected gift. I really didn’t see it coming.
My third passion was birthed into existence, the year after my first niece was born and a year before the next little one will join the party. I found the world of creative writing.
The critiques have been hard to swallow at times, but I decided that I would keep going despite a lack of experience. I set a goal of getting just one creative piece published before I graduated college. It was a lofty goal, but why not aim for the sky?
I decided that I had written a piece worthy of a submission for publication about a month before graduation was slotted to take place.
That very first piece is now published in an anthology series called Seven Deadly Sins, A YA Anthology. I found out just six days before I graduated from the school of business that my piece had been selected.
Another short story is on the way, maybe even for that same series. The history book is done, another check to mark off the list. There a few other creative projects in the works, some just for me and some tied to others. This’ll all take awhile, but I won’t stop. The road ahead may be difficult, but I’ve fallen for the arts. I’ll have the persistence of a Mulé every step of the way.
Not for Einstein, but for my father. Never ever give up.