The more I think about life in all its complexity, the more I realize that it’s all a matter of making it happen. There are things that ebb and flow through its tides, but if you sit around waiting for something to wash up on your shore, you’ll be wading through a lot of driftwood and abandoned toilet seats before you find that message in a bottle. If you ever find it.
If there’s something you want to do, do it. No excuses. If you want to write, be a writer for god’s sake. If you want to paint, go get a brush and an easel and do it. If you want to travel, get your passport. If you want to go back to school and get your MBA, enroll. Make it work. Make it happen. No one is going to do any of those things for you. If you want to learn to play the violin, do it. Try. You don’t know how much time you have here, and why on earth would you want to waste it doing something that doesn’t fulfill you? Why would you stay in a stagnant swamp when you can be floating down a river toward your destination?
I’m not saying it’s not complicated. What I’m saying is this: people find a way to buy new clothes or new shoes. They’ll spend hundreds on a new computer because they’re sick of their old one, even if it works fine. They’ll spend hundreds on a new bike. Or a new car. They’ll keep upgrading their lifestyles instead of saving and living below their means. And when you ask them why they haven’t taken that trip to Spain or Greece or Mumbai or Antarctica, they’ll say they can’t afford it. Of course they can’t — they orchestrated their lives so that they can’t. Make choices now that will get you where you want to be five years from now, ten years from now.
I’ve seen people with nothing manage to build lives so spectacular, so rich and fulfilling, that it brings tears to my eyes. I don’t mean financial success, though sometimes that’s the case. What I mean is personal joy because they followed their bliss. Ask anyone who retires after thirty years of a job they hated. They’ll always have regrets. Always. Never be that person with a wistful glimmer in their eyes saying, “I wish I’d done that.”
I always ask myself if I will regret something more for doing it or not doing it. The answer is almost always the latter. If you try and fail, at least you tried. At least you went for it. And “failure” doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you.
Your life is an earthen vessel on a potter’s wheel. You are that potter. You shape it, mold it, touch it as it spins. If you let it go of its own accord, it’ll spin into a misshapen lump that looks nothing like you imagined. If you grab hold of it and firmly direct the curves and flows, you’ll always know that you had a hand in it. You made your life what it is.
Take the clay and give it form. Make it happen.
EDIT: I kinda hate that I feel the need to include this caveat. This blog is not directed at the sweeping mass of humanity. It is me upset after having been repeatedly put down and insulted by someone–only the most recent in a semi-regular stream of people lining up telling me how to live. This blog is directed only at the people, though faceless to you, who have specifically ripped my life choices apart and belittled me, as well as those who have done the same to people I love. It’s in defense of myself and my loved ones that I wrote this blog. I was hurt and upset and insulted when I wrote it–I had just been called names and put down for an hour straight by someone who made a snap judgment. It wasn’t the first time something like that has happened, and it won’t be the last. I am a writer. I get my feelings out by vomiting them into my fingertips and tapping them on keys. Know all that when you read what’s to follow. And know it’s not directed at you.
Let’s get one thing straight.
I am not now, nor have I never been, prone to insanity. In recent days, acquaintances–not friends; “friend” is a word I reserve for those who truly are–have lined up to express their opinions on my move and the reasons behind it. Specifically, that moving to be closer to my best friend is “nuts,” and that moving at all is “crazy.” Those close to me–those happy few–are ecstatic and supportive.
But this one’s for the naysayers. So if that’s you, perk up your ears.
I have led an extraordinary life. There are two key words in that sentence. Led is one; extraordinary is the other. I have put myself through a private university, traveled the country and the world. And I have done none of that through being timid, nor have I done any of it through being reckless.
I am one of those rare types who sees the world through eyes wide open. I see the world in a panorama, not through a straw. I am one who sees the evident potential in my surroundings, both immediate and far-flung. I am a realist and an idealist.
There aren’t many of us. We’re the ones you call crazy for moving halfway across the country or the world in pursuit of happiness or a dream that exists outside the canvas of your perception. We’re the ones you ridicule and jibe–“What, here’s not good enough for you? Is that it?” For us, the world is at once a great, shining place in its vastness whilst resting easily in the palm of our hands. We go where we feel led, to better ourselves and widen our panorama of sight. We are in a constant state of striving flux–always a paradox that resists puzzling out. We’re dreamers and doers. We do because we dream. We’re rarities, oddities. We see the world as it is, but we live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be.*
Our lives are our Art.
We may seem abstract; our motivations may elude you. We don’t fit in your box, and we’ll fight you tooth and nail if you try to rope us and tether us down.
You want to keep us in your box because you fear our success. Our seeming flightiness intimidates you. We weave foreign tapestries with the shimmering places and gleaming people we find on our ways. We traverse our countries and the globe, and that threatens you. Because we do what you will not admit you can. We react to our feelings and the inexplicable tugs upon our psyches. We live an uncomfortable existence, but we live, and we do it the best way we know how.
We understand with perfect, crystalline clarity that nothing worth having or experiencing in life comes easily. We are not easy people to know. We understand that great gain comes from taking risks. We see the potential for growth and movement, and we calculate our paths with careful fluency. We listen to our intuition, and we do what must be done to be true to it.
We gather to us people like ourselves. We lead by example. We inspire. We create. We often start–often purposely–with nothing and build with our every day. We thrive when we beget beauty ex nihilo, when our very existence conceives wonders in its vibrancy, and when we enrich our own lives and the lives of others through how we live.
We move in and out of others’ paths like fish darting in the sea. And we leave legacies when we go.
So don’t mock us or put us down. We may fall on our faces. We may have to wade through the mud before we reach where we’re going. But to us, life is a journey, and we will get there. And you will never see us slinking away with tails between our legs.
We are dreamers who do. We change the world around us. We may change our course, and things may not work out exactly the way we hope, but we are never guilty of failing to try. Our success is born from our struggles, like a phoenix sired from fiery ash.
We are writers, musicians, poets, artists. We are activists and movers. We are the people you can’t quite grasp. We follow our hearts and our ideals, and we live in relentless pursuit of the extraordinary. We respond to the call of the wild.
So don’t try to hold us back. Don’t label us insane or reckless–rest assured, we know exactly what we’re doing and why. We do it because we must. And we must and shall go free. We are who we are, and your approval is neither desired nor required.
i walk. i talk. i shop. i sneeze. i’m gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. there’s trees in the desert since you moved out, and i don’t sleep on a bed of bones.**
*Joss Whedon, Angel
**Joss Whedon, Buffy