Shine On You Crazy Diamond


Last week Friday, we spoke about Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes AMG winning their 4th World Championship at the Mexican Grand Prix (see post here). In the moments following Lewis’ win, Mercedes sat him down and filmed a small video of his initial reaction. He had not fully processed his championship yet, but Mercedes gave their fans an opportunity to listen to the unscripted heart of their champion. 

Some of the things Lewis says here are so chock full of truth, they are like an onion. Where I peel back one layer, I find another and then another and then another. I have sat with this video nigh on two weeks now and one thing still strikes to my core every time I hear it. 

Well, it was an impossible dream, but we never lost sight of that… it’s been an amazing journey and all I can say is that I really am proof- my family and I and myself really are proof that dreams do come true.

An Impossible Dream. We all have them, those desires and hopes we treasure deep in our hearts. Sometimes we pursue them. More often than not, we bury them. Rather than cultivating an environment where they can grow, we mound them under acidic soil, smothering the life from them with our fear and insecurity.

Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh composed a song called The Quest for the musical Man of La Mancha. Known more readily as The Impossible Dream, I think the lyrics eloquently echoes Lewis’ sentiment: 

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far…
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Courage is essential to our dreams. For most people, courage deals with bravery. While that most certainly is true, as any dictionary will tell you, the etymology of the word courage connotes a deep, richer attribute. 

According to the OED, courage is the heart as the seat of feeling, thought, etc.; spirit, mind, disposition, nature. Courage is what is in one's mind or thoughts, what one is thinking of or intending. Courage is intention; it is purpose; it is desire. Courage is the spirit within each of us.

From this now obsolete understanding, the definition of courage evolved to encompass the meaning spirit, liveliness, lustiness, vigour, vital force or energy; anger, wrath; haughtiness, pride; confidence, boldness. The attributes a spirit can embody worked their way into the meaning of the word until it fully culminated with our current, readily understood definition: That quality of mind which shows itself in facing danger without fear or shrinking; bravery, boldness, valour.

Do you find this etymological evolution interesting? I do, and here’s why. When courage was first used in the everyday vernacular, it meant the disposition of a man, the thing within him that made him tick: his spirit. Now it has refined itself to the quality of spirit within a man; that quality is bravery and boldness and valor in the face of fear. Now, we all know it’s impossible to not feel fear, but, as John Wayne said, Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.

To achieve an impossible dream, we must have courage. As I’ve said before, we must be intrepid (see post here). Or perhaps Pliny the Younger said it best: Fortes fortuna iuvat. Fortune favors the bold.

What I appreciate entirely about the Lewis Hamilton video Mercedes AMG shared on their website is the fact that he has not forgotten how impossible his dream was at the beginning. Yet, here he sits, not a one time or two time or even three time world champion. He’s a four time world champion in a sport where- for a host of reasons, economic, racial, societal, etc- he shouldn’t be at all. 

And if you really set your sights on something and you really believe in yourself and really drive and give everything, and try to remain positive- it takes a long time; I mean, I’m 32 and I’ve been driving for 25 years, so it doesn’t come immediately. But through trial and error, through growth, through all of the times you get knocked down, it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.
— Lewis Hamilton 

I kind of like how Rocky Balboa explains it to his son: 

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

In the end, holding fast to his dream, keeping it ever before him, getting back up when life dealt mighty blows- simply put- being courageous, Lewis Hamilton strove and achieved the impossible. Through his diligent and relentless pursuit, he not only reached his unreachable star, but he changed the dynamic of the sport in which he competed. What started as a simple dream of someday being like his hero Ayrton Senna has now shifted the world of Formula One. 

But here’s the brilliant bit. Lewis Hamilton is absolutely no different than you or me. He is simply a man who embraced a vision for his life and charged after it with all the fire in his soul. To paraphrase Dante, his once tiny spark of a dream is now a mighty, burning flame. 

We all are stars, and we can shine as bright as we want to. And you should really take it upon yourself to shine as bright as possible because the person next to you, you’re going to encourage that person to shine even brighter.
— Lewis Hamilton

The dream within you is unique to you. Perhaps it’s something others might consider small or silly or insignificant. It’s not. Dreams never are. They are the fabric of which we are made. They are essential to our lives. The poet Khalil Gibran said, Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Solomon said, without a vision, the people perish. We need our dreams. But, more importantly, we need to be courageous and pursue them because they are not simply for us. The realization of each of our individual dreams impacts the world. 

So, throughout this week and in the coming months as the holiday season ramps up in its festive frenzy, remember this:

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
— Nelson Mandela

Shine, dear readers. Remember the childhood song, This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. In an increasingly dark world, your light is needed, because where your light is, darkness cannot be. As Pink Floyd sang: Come on you raver, you seer of visions, Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!…Shine on you crazy diamond!