Trouble is, I have no idea what's next. You're probably thinking, "Duh, WashingTina, nobody knows what's next. That's the whole point, isn't it?" I don't do so well with not knowing what's next. I'm a planner. I like to know what's for dinner by breakfast. I like to know what I'm doing on Saturday by Monday afternoon. I like to know where my next paycheck is coming from, how many vacation days I've earned, and the exact number of pennies in my bank account. Not very exciting.
I was at an event recently focused around creativity. Despite my straight and narrow path, I do consider myself creative. And what I learned at this event was that creative types take risks. They fail. They dust themselves off, try again, and fail again. Sometimes they fail thousands of times before they succeed. Over and over again, the speakers at this event (Oscar winners, journalists, heads of Fortune 500 companies, and the owner of several major sports teams -- the most successful people around) talked of risk. And failure. And eventual success. It was profound and it was inspiring.
Sitting in the event next to me was a dear friend, a friend who is a lot like me in many ways. A friend who is toying with starting a business of her own. During one point in yet another talk about risk and failure, I elbowed her and whispered, "See! It's not too late!" And as dear friends are supposed to do, she elbowed me back and said, "Same goes for you, my friend." She's right. And I got uncomfortable again.
I've been reading Stephen King's On Writing lately, a gift from that same dear friend, a friend who believes in me and thinks that I should be writing (and I suppose I should). King discusses his first attempts at getting published, when he was just a high school kid, nailing the rejection slips from failed tries to his wall. He writes:
By the time I was fourteen . . . the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.And he didn't stop. He kept on writing. And writing, and writing. He's one of the most prolific writers of our time (and a damn fine one, at that). He learned how to risk when he was just a kid . . . something I didn't do, for fear of getting grounded, or disappointing someone, or hearing my name pronounced with a hard "T" on Tina, the way they do when I'm in trouble. The note I wrote to myself in the margin by that passage in his book, "Even Stephen King failed!!" A gentle reminder.
And so I must learn to risk. Without too much analysis, without too much fear, with the permission to fail. A pretty tall order when you've done exactly the opposite on all accounts your entire life. I don't yet know what it's going to be, but I know that I'm getting closer to the leap . . . and I know, as the old adage says, that the net will appear.
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