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Bury Two Coffins

If you seem to be losing at life, pay attention to this story.

In 2016, HBO released a masterpiece of a show, "The Young Pope," which highlights the ordeals of a (comparatively) young Catholic Cardinal, Lenny Belardo, as he navigates the treacherous waters of Vatican politics to become the youngest Pope in history.

Once in office, he quickly begins a series of reforms that do not sit well with the old guard.

When threats and appeals to personal interest do not work, they try to oust him, but he stays multiple steps ahead of them in wit.

They dig into his past in search of a smoking gun, hoping to blackmail him, but find none.

They’re shocked to find that he’s truly a saint with no skeletons, clean as a whistle.

However, he did have something in his past, and this they were able to use.

You see, Lenny was abandoned by his birth parents, after which, a nun found him and raised him as her own.

Though she was good to Lenny, he could not quite shake off the abandonment.

He carried the burden for many years and tried many times to find them.

It affected him psychologically, causing him to have nightmares and panic attacks but he was able to hide it well.

Eventually, his enemies at the Vatican found out about this weakness.

They hired a couple to come forward claiming to be his parents.

They did this in the hopes of distracting him so he would be blindsided to yet another separate plot against his papacy.

They almost succeeded, but somehow, Lenny discovered the whole charade and punished the plotters.

While reminiscing over how his enemies nearly had him, he knew he had to face his weakness - this childhood trauma that had been the source of multiple unforced errors.

I’ll come back to unforced errors in a bit.

He consults his mentor, a much older cleric, who knew about his abandonment issues, and the advice he got made me think for weeks.

Go to Venice and bury two empty coffins.

Think on the above line for a while.

When its meaning is clear, then continue reading.

Now let's talk about unforced errors.

Unforced Errors

In tennis, an unforced error is a mistake made by a player that is not caused by the skill of their opponent.

It is a mistake that is entirely the fault of the player who made it, rather than being forced by the skill of their opponent.

Can you imagine knowing that nobody can match your talents, yet your mistakes keep costing you matches?

The best players in the world have suffered this.

Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic are known for their consistency and discipline, but have all made unforced errors that cost them matches.

In the 2009 Australian Open final, Nadal had a chance to win but made errors that allowed Federer to come back and win.

In the 2016 US Open final, Serena Williams made errors that allowed Pliskova to come back and win.

In the 2018 Wimbledon final, Djokovic had a two-set lead but made errors that allowed Anderson to come back and win.

While I do not know what caused these specific errors, the leading cause of unforced errors in tennis has been found to be psychological in nature - nervousness, mental fatigue or a momentary inability to focus.

Take a look back at some of your unforced errors in the past year.

Those times you were unable to show up at your best, not because you lacked the skills, resources or networks to pull it off, but because past trauma came knocking on D-Day.

Those times you hid your star from the world because old memories of fear and embarrassment resurfaced.

The times you shrunk when the light got brighter and withdrew your genius because of survivors guilt.

I know… I know… tough to look back on, but avoidance is an infant’s game.

I need you to look into that abyss and confront what lurks.

This game of 2023 is yours to win, my friend.

You’ve prepared your entire life for this Grand Slam title and you’re the clear favorite but you must settle the war in your mind.

That lost love, that missed opportunity, the neglect of a parent - the alternate endings to those movies you keep reimagining in the theatre of your mind.

The imaginary conversations you keep on having with an antagonist that isn’t physically there anymore but you later found your tongue long after the confrontation had passed?

Know what I mean?

It's probably sad they happened… but...

It’s game night and all this extra luggage cannot take center stage with you.

None of us are immune, but awareness is the first step.

And now, once and for all, let the dead bury the dead.

Go to Venice, and bury two empty coffins.

Then give us the performance of a lifetime.

Happy New Year.

Talk Soon,

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Modern Wisdom for Navigating the Modern World.

Created by John Obidi

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