The above movie clip is from the movie “Gattaca”. The movie takes place in the future, where it is possible to genetically determine what a person will be like at birth, essentially creating the “best” human possible. During the shown scene, two brothers (one of them genetically enhanced, the other not) are having a fierce swim competition, seeing how far one can swim out into the ocean before turning back and swimming to shore again. The genetically enhanced brother (Anton) quite literally has no excuse not to win. He is far stronger, and he’s backed up with the confidence of never having lost to his brother, Vincent. However if you watch the clip, you’ll see something strange occur: during this particular competition, Anton loses to his brother. He begins to falter, and his brother has to help him to just get back to the shore. Baffled by the sheer impossibility of the loss, Anton is in shock as to how his brother won. As Anton turns to swim back the way he had came, Vincent calls out above the violent din of the waves: “You know how I did it Anton? I never save anything for the swim back!”.
We as humans are all subject to our own biological limits; we can only physically push our bodies up to a certain point before it reaches its breaking point. For example, your body produces lactic acid in your bloodstream when running hard so it won’t shut down. Your mentality, however, can be (and almost always is) the difference between reaching your potential or not. Even while we are striving for our goals, we tend to set “perceived limitations” for ourselves. Sometimes, a person may want to reach a certain goal more than anything else in the world, and still fail in the end (even if the person is capable of succeeding). Why didn’t Anton beat Vincent? Anton was far superior to his brother in physical strength and endurance. The answer in fact is……….fear. As Gordon Pirie said, “Any runner who denies having fears, nerves or some kind of disposition is a bad athlete, or a liar.” While this is true, the most successful people are those who are fearless once the race begins; when they hit bumps in the road they don’t doubt for an instant that they can overcome them and carry along at the same speed. As Vincent swam further and further into the unforgiving ocean, he wasn’t weighing his chances of being able to make it back alive. Had he concentrated on how much energy he had left in the tank, he would not have been as focused on winning, and would have lost. No matter what endeavor you face, don’t dwell on how “realistic” it is. Like my English teacher says, be the best you can be NOW. Let no fear stand in your way of reaching your potential. Don’t think of how much you have left or how hard it’ll be to continue when things get rough. Just release yourself of doubt, and go for it.
PS- “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” ~Steve Prefontaine