I took a little trip to Chattanooga this morning. The drive there was longer than the amount of time I stayed. It was a short sweet visit to hear inspirational speaking and meet a couple of the guys I write for, who incidentally turned out to be awesome and thinking the same thing as me. They were hoping I wasn’t a drag in person. I was hoping they weren’t douche-bags in person. None of us were disappointed. It was pretty great.
Anyway, on the way there, I decided to listen to a book instead of music. I had an audible credit and figured I’d put it to good use. So I downloaded Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I didn’t have any expectations going into it except that I knew I loved Eat, Pray, Love so I only expected that I would like this book as much.
I can’t even say that I didn’t like it as much. Or that I didn’t like it. There were parts of it where I was saying, “Amen, Sister,” out loud. And there were parts of it where I was really examining my life (in a good way).
But in one part of the book she was saying how a lot of artists were stuck in a sense of “tragedy.” If their craft wasn’t making them miserable in some way, then they must not be doing it right. She wasn’t saying that was the right way. She was just saying that she had encountered a lot of people who didn’t love their craft. They felt like it was more of a curse, basically. She was also saying that you shouldn’t put the pressure on your craft to support you. I begged to differ there. She was saying that if you do then you will stop enjoying your craft regardless of what it is.
And as I listened to her, I realized that I really am happy. Not that today is the first time I’ve realized it. But I’m happy to be able to wake up and move three feet to my computer desk and sit down and write until my little heart is content.
I also realized today that I’m lucky. I’m lucky to even be able to do that. I’m lucky that I haven’t had to break down and go job hunting just yet. But more than that, I’m lucky that every day I wake up with fresh ideas. I’m lucky that I can go to sleep with a thought on my mind and wake up with a story in my fingers.
I do know that I have always had the gift of optimism. Maybe that’s why ideas flow so freely through me. I do know that I always believe that things will work out. Even when I have surface doubt, deep down inside, I know things will work out. People have been saying it my whole life. My daughter’s grandmother (paternal side) used to always say, “you’re like a cat, you always land on your feet.” And my mom and my sister have always told me, “you could fall in shit and come out smelling like roses.” I don’t know if they were saying it in a good way or a bad way. But it doesn’t matter, because I guess they were all right.
I do have a tendency to come out on top. Not as on top as I would like, because if that were the case, I’d would have managed to manifest a winning $200 Million lottery ticket by now. I know you’re thinking, wtf would you do with all that money? But I promise you, every single person who has ever liked this blog here or on Facebook would get a present from me because, you’re right, I don’t need that much money, but I’d still like to have it so I could change more lives than my own.
My friend Crystal regularly tells me that she doesn’t know how I manage to keep a smile on my face everyday because of all the crap I’ve dealt with in my life (and still deal with). And maybe she’s right. Maybe I should be a wreck. But I just can’t muster the energy for it. Plus, it’s never been as bad as it could be. For instance, I’ve never been homeless. I’ve never had DCS at my door questioning my parenting. I’ve never been completely without food. My kids have always eaten. The bills have always managed to get paid. I have always managed to get by.
And when I see the success of my friends and I see their successful marriages and their big spotless houses, there is nothing in me that is envious. I realize that I had to walk this path of mine to gain the experiences that I have. If I had missed the experiences, if I had not hopped through a thousand jobs, if I did not have the long list of failed relationships that are swimming in the deepest darkest most regrettable parts of my brain, I would have nothing to draw from when I want to create magic. I would only have my seemingly perfect life. And although that is great for some writers, I don’t think it would have benefited me at all. Nor do I think it would have benefited my successful friends to take the path I took. And so I’m happy they are happy, and married, and successful. But I don’t base my value on their success or my failures. I don’t actually base my value on anything. I just hold it in a basket like a bunch of golden eggs that have always been there.
I’ll admit I am not where I would like to be right now, but life happens, kids need raised, priorities need prioritized. I regret nothing. I don’t even regret not finishing college. Because one thing Elizabeth Gilbert did say in her book that I agree with is that you don’t need a degree to be creative. You either are and it drives you (or drives you crazy) or you aren’t. Of course, it’s nice to have teachers and mentors, but life is also a teacher and a mentor.
Four hours on the road with nothing but your thoughts (and a self-help-ish book) can be quite therapeutic. I may have to try that more often.