I would rather die on my feet, than live on my knees

I am often very critical of unproven, pious beliefs, like the long-standing idea that only the untainted souls of the pure, sinless, and righteous amongst us will ascend into the heavens after death and live out an eternally blissful afterlife.

But then, when I assess my own thoughts, I quickly realize that there is not much of a difference between the fanatic religious person and myself, the ambitious tech entrepreneur. A large part of me is holding firmly onto the idea that one day this will all be worth it. That one day I will wake up in a beachside mansion, next to the woman of my dreams, with R1 million more in my bank account than when I went to sleep the night before. That one day I will be able to travel across the world at will and purchase whatever I want, without having to take cost into consideration. That one day I will have a number of my own technology products being used by thousands, even millions of people on a daily basis. I have this strong belief that all my hours spent in front of my computer, viciously tapping away at my keyboard and writing endless lines of code will result in a positive and extremely rewarding outcome. That one day all my risks, sacrifices, and death-defying stunts will prove to have finally been worth it.

But what if that day never arrives? What if my hours spent in front of my computer are all in vain? What if I end up forever living hand to mouth, month to month and salary to salary? What if I am destined to live a mundane life without making a significant impact on the world, and amassing a decent fortune in the process? What if I am just extremely deluded, harboring the entrepreneurial version of Heaven and the afterlife. Living out an earthly life filled with unnecessary sacrifices, in order to be rewarded at a later stage by our capitalistic God of wealth and fame. The mighty deity that we respect and bow down to every single day of our lives.

What if I’m mentally unstable? What if I’m suffering from a condition that I am not aware of. What if I live in a fantasy world that exists purely in my head? What if I’m crazy and I am voluntarily throwing away the best years of my life in order to attain a truly unattainable reality? What if one day when I look back at it all I will cry tears of pain, regret, and disappointment?

The sad thing is, that even with this heightened level of introspection and self-awareness, I still have no inner urge to change my approach. Even with the knowledge that this might not work out and that this might all be in vain, I still can’t see myself adopting any other way of life that would be this fulfilling – as stressful and challenging as this current life may be. I guess this is just a testament of how powerful a delusion this could be.

But regardless of whether this is a delusion or not, I shall continue to embrace this journey wholeheartedly. I will move steadfastly in the direction of my dreams because as it stands right now, I cannot see myself living life any other way. So for as long as I manage to wake up to a new day, with my mind and body intact,  I shall continue to fight with all my power, heart and might, in order to realize the life that I so desperately aspire to live.

And if it doesn’t work out, then at the very least I can proudly say that I tried my best throughout. Regardless of the likelihood of my fantasized success, I myself know deep down, in the depths of my heart, that I would rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.

“The only thing that stands between a man and what he really wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.”

-Richard DeVos


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