Everything works fine? You are screwed.

Climbing up the ladder to success or happiness is a road marked by many difficulties. To make matters worse, as one moves up more problems and enemies arise. They are to be expected, which is fine. Treacherous are the moments after victory, when one drops guard and falls under illusion that the good will go on forever.

I realized this today during my surfing lesson. I have managed to stand-up and ride the wave for the first time ever. It was a great feeling – so I high-fived my instructor and went on catching more waves. I have accidently entered the riptide zone, where current is sucking everything deeper into sea. I had noticed and fully realized what happened when I tried to get on shore. Memory of my Latvian friend hanging on the board, shouting “I can’t get out” is now a funny one. Luckily it was not one of those strong, dangerous currents, but:

  • I got incredibly exhausted
  • I failed to do what I was supposed to do – swim along the shore and use power of the current to escape it

My reaction pissed me off even more, since I studied riptides before I took the lessons.

Let’s drop this minor experience and focus on a larger frame. Things are always changing. Pendulum swings mercilessly from good to bad, no matter the wishes. If we examine modern history of my country, we find many twists and turns. Czechoslovakia was established in 1918. 1938 – Munchen. 1939 – Nazi occupation. 1948 – Communist coup. 1968 – Soviet occupation. 1989 – Velvet revolution. 1993 – country split in two sovereign states.

Germany, crippled in 1932, was knocking on gates of Moscow nine years later. Almost no one expected it. And that’s the thing. Unexpected events should be expected. Improbable is not impossible. Danger is out there all the time. It is our task to foresee the upcoming enemy before we reach the success and prepare ourselves.

From strictly military point of view, operations of US Army in Europe during WWII were successful. If we add politics, they were a major failure. Churchill foresaw the upcoming enemy in Soviet Union and appealed on Eisenhower to march on Vienna, Prague and if possible, Berlin. History would have been different. As for my country, US orders to stop at Pilsen and leave Prague to Soviets are bitter memory.

To wrap this up – no matter the size – whether it’s your friendship, marriage, business, or country, things will change. Wars will be fought, friendships will fall. Alert and caution are from now on our great friends, especially after success. Some people just cannot handle success of others and will try to take them down by any means necessary.

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About Petr Klíma