THE BLOG
06/12/2014 12:41 pm ET | Updated Aug 12, 2014

Why People With Meaningful Lives Paint Their Faces Blue

Every muscle longs for comfort and security, except one: the heart. While the rest of us looks for the easy way out, the heart beats for meaning and purpose. It's a ruthless, open and yet deceptive war.

Perhaps no story demonstrates this tension better than Braveheart. William Wallace lives into his convictions while Robert the Bruce more than anything wants to live into his convictions but has too many good reasons not to. I desire to be a William Wallace but, if I'm honest, I'm somehow constantly slipping into a Robert the Bruce. Watching Braveheart made me reflect on my own story, and as one erring soul to another I share those reflections with you:

1) It will always seem easier to be a Robert the Bruce.

Living like a Robert the Bruce almost always means instant gratification while living your best story almost always means delayed gratification. Looking at my own behavior, I often consider choosing instant companionship at the risk of long term loneliness, instant financial gratification at the risk of long term recklessness, instant approval at the risk of long term disappointment.  

A William Wallace pans to the end of their life, reflects backwards, and makes their decision based on what they would choose from their death beds:

Fight, and you may die. Run, and you'll live, at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they may never take our freedom.

2) You have to want something for which you'll give up everything.

A great story is when a character wants something that truly matters so badly they will give up everything to get it. 

The problem the English had with William Wallace is that he couldn't be bribed, he couldn't be intimidated, and he didn't mind sacrificing his own life to better those of his countrymen. The more reasonable, logical, and calculated Scottish nobles like Robert the Bruce each had a selling point at which they would exchange their countrymen's lives in order to preserve their own.

I've noticed my selling out point on a lot of days seems pretty cheap. I'd probably sell out for a decent salary, a certain relationship, and for others to think I'm a decent guy. Pretty sad, huh? On a lot of days I reek of a Robert the Bruce.

A William Wallace doesn't do that. They willingly overcome great obstacles, challenges, and pain because their purpose in life isn't for sale.

3) Struggle sets our hearts free.

In a dream William Wallace's father tells him, "Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it," setting the course of William's life. Just before battle William Wallace tells the Scottish army, "You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are." Though the body will run, the heart understands struggle reveals the truth of who it really is: that it is good, courageous, patient, full of love and faith and hope and endurance, and knowing the truths sets it free. 

William Wallace and Robert the Bruce exemplify two forces in each of our lives, one that begs us to live our best story by following the convictions in our hearts, and the other which tries to rob us of our best story by giving us reasons not to. Late at night when I sit at the top of the bridge and look out at the city I listen to each of these voices and this is the war they fight: Will I act according to the world that truly is or the world that seems to be even though my heart says it's fake?

In the end love wins. William Wallace loves Robert the Bruce not as his enemy but as a victim of his enemy, and though he loses his life, William Wallace fulfills his purpose through Robert the Bruce's ultimate decision to lead his country towards freedom: "I don't want to lose heart. I want to believe as he does. I will never be on the wrong side again."

William Wallace lived his life to set the Robert the Bruce's of the world free, of which I once was one, and because of what He did, I too now am free.