Who’s Antoine Vaillant?
How did we meet?
Antoine e-mailed me about tricking when I first launched trickstutorials.com in 2002. Antoine lives in a different country, so we’ve maintained an internet friendship since then.
Lesson #1, Don’t let the past own you
In recent years, I would sometimes bring up something cool that Antoine and I had experienced together in our past. But Antoine would often say “I don’t remember haha.” or even “How do you remember all this? I don’t remember this?” It just kept happening. Over and over again. Antoine wasn’t remembering much. Antoine never wanted to talk about anything from his past or our shared past. He was 100% focused on the moment, and how tomorrow depended on today. I finally realized the genius in Antoine’s way of living.
You see, Antoine knows the past isn’t going to make him happy. So Antoine devotes 100% of his time to making something new today, with what he has, while being fanatically optimistic about his future. The fact that Antoine doesn’t rest on his past achievements or let his defeats haunt him, is one of his big secrets to winning in life. Antoine’s past isn’t slowing him down. This is why he seems unstoppable.
“Not letting the past own you” is a self-empowerment habit any of us can develop. And what I think is really neat about the idea of developing this habit, is that we don’t think about it as a kind of self-empowerment habit. Developing this habit can qualify as an actual secret to success, because nobody thinks of it as a habit to develop in the first place! Self-empowerment habits are usually things like:
- Drink water instead of juice and soda.
- Go to bed before 10 pm.
- Eat green vegetables everyday.
- Save money everyday.
- Count three blessings every day.
- Study every morning.
- Stop smoking cigarettes.
- Keep a weekly journal of thoughts and ideas.
There are tons of these type of habits, and those are good ones, but try developing the habit of “Don’t let the past own you.” You will feel more alive, and you will begin achieving things again if you had already slowed down. And it’s easy to start doing. So make a new experience, stop talking about what you already did. Stop looking back and reminiscing about the “good ole’ days.” Make today your recreation. Today is your best friend. Today is your new creed. Today you will make new memories. Today you will make you, all over again. Start over. Don’t be haunted by past peaks and pitfalls: Antoine doesn’t. And that’s why he’s better than us.
Lesson #2, Don’t live for the future
I remember a conversation Antoine and I had while I was filling up my car with gasoline during his visit in 2011. I was sharing my future plans with him, some of my plans were pushed out more than five years down the road. My reasoning for pushing these things into the future was, “It’s just not the right time yet.” or “I’m not ready yet.” or “I just need a few more years.” Antoine didn’t have much to say in response, but I remember how I felt while I rationalized pushing these things into the future: I felt like I was making excuses. I felt like a baby. I felt small. And I realized later that I wasn’t taking the actions I really wanted to take because I was scared or lazy.
We all want to seem wise and prove to others that patience is the key to a good life. But patience isn’t the key to a good life: it’s a scam. We either mistake it for procrastination or we use it as an excuse for our incapability to appreciate and maximize today. I realized this after observing Antoine. Antoine isn’t patient, he doesn’t need to be patient, he doesn’t feel like he’s waiting for anything. Antoine doesn’t sit around and speculate about his future happiness. Instead he’s always in the process of doing everything he can possibly do today, with what he has, to make today the greatest day ever.
So Antoine doesn’t plan on starting to live his life the way he wants to 3 months from now or 3 years from now: life is not lived as a purgatory for Antoine; as far as I’ve observed, Antoine doesn’t really ever plan, because he’s too busy doing things to sit down and write about what he’ll do later. For Antoine, the right time is right now. He’s having a blast in the process. For Antoine, the process is everything. Today is his day. He is pure action, pure power, and that’s another reason why Antoine is better than us.
And so while the rest of us believe our time will come too one day, it never really will as long as we subscribe to the virtue of patience. Patience spawns patience. It’s a nasty little cycle. We’ll never arrive as long as we are choosing to feel as if we haven’t already arrived. We’ll always feel a step behind if we feel like what we want is coming later. In order to arrive, we have to make that choice today. We gotta begin living our existences as entities of pure action. We gotta stop pushing things into the future and thinking our best days are still ahead. We have to stop using today only as a means to bide our time for something we expect in our future. Instead, we must appreciate the time we have today, and use it like Antoine does. We should realize today and everyday this year can be the best days of our lives. and it can continue this way, but we have to make that choice right now.
Strengths are not always… Strong.
I’ve learned a lot from Antoine, but these two lessons challenged and changed me more than any. These lessons were important to me because they made me rethink two traits I felt were strengths I possessed: memory and patient planning. Antoine made me realize these “strengths” I possessed were holding me back. So I’ve stopped resting on my past achievements and memories, I don’t let myself get nostalgic about good times that have passed. I still create some strangely convoluted plans and still wait before I start some projects, but it’s becoming uncommon. I don’t feel like I’m having to be patient and endure today to make it to some future destination. I’m no longer merely biding my time for something down the road. I’m totally absorbed in the process now. I’m focused on what I have today and the nearest future. And I’m more joyful and effective because of all of this.
So by observing Antoine, it was revealing to me that even our “strengths” can become modes of comfort that hold us back from reaching the next level of our development. Our “strengths” can keep us from having a healthy attitude toward today. Thanks to Antoine, I was able to see my “strengths” in this new way, and then begin undoing myself so that I could begin growing again and making everyday a worthy and new day that is complete in-itself. Thank you Antoine! I’m blessed to have you as a friend!