Don't Quit, Just Drive

Stephen King, before he was a one of the world’s best-selling authors, was a struggling and uninspired English teacher.  So he quit teaching and pursued writing. It worked out okay.

For me, this idea is discouraging because it’s impossible.  As Caged the Elephant sings, “I’ve got bills to pay, I’ve got mouths to feed” and “ain’t nothin in this world for free.”  I can’t quit my job to pursue my passions, and at times, that’s frustrating.  The few moments stolen throughout the day, combined with a few late nights and sporadic weekends doesn't seem to add up to too much, and at times, to nothing at all.

It’s disheartening.

Recently I had to take a quick flight to Shenyeng and was hoping to get some writing in (a few hours with no internet seemed the perfect time to get some thoughts down).  But instead, I found myself struggling to pull my computer out of my bag and write because I was tired and it was much easier to watch a movie than trying to think and type and delete and retype.  I knew I should be writing, but I just kept finding excuses not to, and I wasn’t quite sure why. 

I might have kept watching the whole film, struggling the entire way with guilt and shame, if not for one of the early scenes. 

In downtown New York, the main character was being trailed so he started weaving his way through the crowded city, him walking calmly and them scrambling to keep up.  After a few close calls, he hops into a taxi and says, “Just drive,” and they take off.  He looks back through the rear window as the bad guys stumble onto the road, out of breadth and distraught.  

I stopped watching and pulled out my computer, struck with a not-quite-throwing-my-keys-on-my-bosses-desk-and-yelling-“I quit!”-but-kind-of sort of moment. 

I cannot quit my job to pursue other passions or hobbies, but I can hop in a taxi and yell . . .

Just Drive.

Matter lays inert until an outside force acts upon it, taxi drivers don’t drive until someone tells them to go, and fulfilled dreams don’t come to those who wait for the right and perfect time to start.  It comes to those who go after it with a club.  

We live in a critical world that easily criticizes what it doesn’t understand.  This can breed fear and apprehension for obvious reasons – no one likes to be criticized.  Flee from the accusations and doubts, jump into the nearest cab and race through the busy streets.  There will be thrills, lots of explosions, and probably pain, but you won’t die.  

And most importantly, you’ll be moving, and soon, you'll be able to . . .

Dance with the confidence of a white woman.

In general, white women cannot dance.  There are plenty of white women who can (just as there are plenty of white men who can jump), but there are also plenty who cannot, and those are the ones I want to focus on because right now, you are a white woman who cannot dance.  You can’t jump either.  Just sayin.

But that’s okay. 

Surround yourself with others who, like you, want to have a good time and enjoy the music, who are mindful of the reason why people starting dancing in the first place – because they enjoy it.  Don’t worry about those on the sidelines snickering and jeering, your friends are with you, so keep dancing, you just might inspire someone else to get off their chair and join you on the dancefloor – because passion (even erratic passion) is inspiring and dancing with friends is so much more fun than dancing alone.

*As a side note, it wouldn’t hurt to get some dancing lessons and learn a few things, maybe even a lot of things, just don’t stop dancing.  Use what you’ve got until you know better. 

And as you grow and mature in your passion, as you learn the tricks of the trade and possibly grow in popularity . . .

Don’t forget the 90’s.

Remember when, in the 90’s, your wall of photos and writings was literally your four walls in your bedroom?  When you took pictures and wrote whatever you liked so you could post them because you liked them, to publish for yourself and your friends – not for likes and distant followers?  Remember that?  (Some of your friends relate more to the 80’s, but that’s okay, the point is the same – they’re just super old.)

As you grow and learn, remember why you started and who was there in the beginning.  It’s easy to be liked on forums and blogs and places where people can’t look at your pictures and read your stories and say, “bull shit!” because they weren’t there.

But it’s also pretty shallow.

So don’t pursue them over those who’ve sat in your room, listened to your music, slept on your floor, and drew obscenities on your wall – your real wall - the one you were afraid that Mom and Dad might see.   Remember those who were there when you made a fool of yourself on the dance floor, the ones who jumped in the cab with you. 

You may not be the next Stephen King.

Actually, there is no maybe, you won’t be, you will not be the next Stephen King, but I hope you know that’s okay.  And I hope you know that you don’t need to quit your job to pursue writing nor feel that you'll fail without doing so.  You do, however, need to flee from those people and thoughts who wish to hinder you and jump into the nearest cab.

From there, who knows where you’ll go and what will happen.

At least you’ll be moving.