I was driving to work this morning after having just dropped my son off at school. It was a chilly October morning with the rising sun in my eyes. I was listening to a song by the Avette Brothers, called Long Story Short, which was a lot about what happens to peoples’ lives when life doesn’t work out like they had planned.
There is a perfect line which repeats about the connected characters, who “wonders when their life will begin.” It’s a story about the messy, often disappointing lives of people, all looking outward at each other, who might not realize that each of us is facing the same struggle, feeling out of step and wondering where this life is that we were always told we could have, but never really seemed to get off the ground.
Shortly before this, I picked up coffee at Dutch Bros. My usual Americano, which I enjoy because the roast is delicious, it has plenty of caffeine to get my day going, and it is one of the cheapest things on the menu. At ten drinks, I have a full card and I can get a really good fancy drink. I had to apologize to my broista, Micah, because things have been annoyingly crazy at work lately and I promised to watch his band’s music video which he sent me a few days ago. So I got to work, clicked the link and oddly enough, the song fit the same theme that had been going through my head for the last few days. (The band is Play Wr!tes and they are pretty damned good!)
The other day I was on the phone with my mom, discussing the latest in asshattery at work. There are days the day job really grates on me. This morning I was greeted with drama, but luckily for me, it wasn’t my drama this time. It was similar, just shoveled out in a different direction towards another coworker. The old adage of “bad leadership will ruin even the best crew” thundering in my mind.
When I was visiting with my mom, I kept thinking about how I have the tools to do something else with my life than listen to people squabble about what time they should come in to work in the morning and the battle of wills that ensues when a workplace doesn’t believe much in boundaries.
I have the talent to write, the tools to write well, but unfortunately, I have been having to train myself into how I can market this. How to break into the field of travel writing. How to even get my blog read. So many gatekeepers exist in this world.
When I started this job, nearly twenty years ago, it wasn’t what I had planned on doing for the rest of my life. I remember interviewing with my first supervisor and I had to bite back the bile that rose in my throat when I said, “I’ve worked a lot of jobs and now I am looking to begin a career and I think this is the place I can do that.” So far, this has been a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The money was steady, the work was pretty easy, and I could go home and write and eventually go home and take care of a household and three kids without it beating the hell out of me. I would work on fiction after everyone had gone to bed, and that felt good. It didn’t pay hardly anything at all.
As a Creative, whether you are a writer, an artist, a musician or anyone that uses their imagination and experience to pluck something out of the Aether and build it for others, the drive to do so is strong. Tangiable. A compulsion. You can hone your skills until you are a very good at what you do, but sometimes it is very hard to figure out how to sell that to other people. That’s why there are things like agents and managers and editors. Producers. And that world is pretty much in my blind spot.
There is a bit of a Philip K. Dick book that talks about someone who had a pet rabbit that would try to play with the dogs, but being as how rabbits are less evolved than dogs, it often tried to play with the dogs, but eventually just gave up and sat there, its nose twitching because after all, it was just a rabbit.
There are times I have felt like that rabbit. Like success at doing something I loved doing–for fun and profit!–was always for someone else. No matter how good I can get at something, there was always something blocking me. Some detail I was missing. Even this website doesn’t appear in Google when you search for it. So how do you get noticed? How do you get put on the map? How does your talent and drive get recognized among the hundreds of thousands of others?
That answer still eludes me. But I won’t let it stop me from creating.
I’m tired of waiting for my life to begin. The answer to that is the race started a long time ago. It’s not the kind of race that is measured in time, other than when your clock reaches zero, the race is over. The true measure of success is whether or not you took part in it. As with other creatives, all that really matters is getting out there and giving it a shot. The work is its own reward. Fans, followers, and supporters are wonderful. Paychecks are even better because it lets you devote more time to your calling.
Recently, my girlfriend stepped into the Arena and quit her job. She is embarking on a journey towards a career as an electrician. Our generation is one where Responsibility is often a deterrent. A lifetime of adhering to a work ethic of a bygone era kept her in a series of jobs she hated, which replaced her whenever she left without a second thought. Now she has the chance to build a career for herself in the trades. At a time in her life when she is ready to begin.
I have the unique position to see the young dreamers like Micah and his band starting off and my girlfriend beginning a new chapter in her life which might seem delayed by a lifetime of responsibility, raising kids, and keeping her feet on the ground. I am still at a place where I have child support to pay, but my dream of writing is still very much alive. I have a good foundation to take the leap from, but not quite the freedom from being able to go full-out for the next step.
I’ll continue to bide my time before I flip the table and embrace my destiny in a career of my choosing, rather than a job that ceased being a temporary stepping stone many years ago.
So, today’s lesson is about tenacity. Keep moving forward. Keep teaching yourself. Keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. Something might give in and you can reach the next level. Or give up now and daydream about how good things could have been. Listening to your coworkers squabble in a job that lost all of its charm many years ago.
The choice is yours–are you a dog or a rabbit? Either way, life began a long time ago. You aren’t an impostor! You are ready to begin your life the moment you take the first breath. Take the first steps. Fall flat on your face, get up again and try over and over until you get it right!