After a night at The Usual and Olive Garden with friends, Isaiah and I got tangled in conversation in the car. At some point, we leaned back in our seats and Isaiah’s head was resting in my hand. We talk about the future all the time, but it’s more about the next couple of weeks, the next couple of months or the next year. But five years? Ten? We don’t always see the future through the days.
I don’t know if it was the Unconventional Wisdom martinis or copious amounts of garlic breadsticks that brought on our mutual epiphany, but there we were. Our voices were cracking and our eyes glossing and we were talking about how we felt our big dreams were slipping.
Isaiah has always wanted to be a painter. When he was in kindergarten, his teacher called his parents in for a conference and dramatically revealed a recent drawing of his.
“Oh, that’s nice,” his parents said, nodding and waiting for the record of Isaiah’s bad behavior to come next.
“No. Wait. These are what the other kids drew,” the teacher pulled out finger paintings, stick figures and crayon-line-drawings.
In kindergarten, Isaiah’s understanding of dimension and shading surpassed even the next-best kid’s skills by a multiplier no less than four.
I have always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been published a couple of times by accident in magazines and newspapers. I feel like I’ve always had a knack for it, but mostly, I don’t enjoy anything more.
But having natural talent for something hasn’t made it easier to pursue.
Instead, we grew up without “needing to work” as hard to get the same results. I’ve watched people I thought were “okay writers” write novels and screenplays and turn their blogs into something big and Isaiah has watched previously mediocre classmates and friends pass him by in technical skill.
We talked for a little more than an hour about how we worked hard at everything else. I would have an inkling to learn calligraphy and all of a sudden, I would enroll in classes, drum up a business plan and leave the dream behind in a few weeks. Isaiah wanted to go on a juice fast and he researched juicers and smoothie recipes and grocery shopped and blended and forgot how much he loves sandwiches and rice and solid foods for a few weeks until he lost interest in puréed fruits.
I spent 17 years learning and playing piano – seven of which were to avoid riskier endeavors. Piano was safe and I was mildly talented at it. Isaiah spent the last nine years becoming a great graphic designer. While he believes design is an extension of his art, his true passion is painting.
But really trying to get thing you want most about is scary.
It’s scary as shit.
As long as you’re not actively trying to reach it, you can say you don’t have enough time. If there were only more hours in a day. You can say your family takes a lot of your time. When the kids are in school, I’ll… You can say you’re just about ready to make it big — you just need fifty more pages.
But you’re as good as dead if you never try. No one wants to give their true passion everything they’ve got and find out they’re not as good as they thought or as good as they need to be. But no one is going to write a book for me. No one is going to paint Isaiah’s masterpiece for him. No one is going to _______ for you.
So start with 300 words or the smallest canvas size they sell. Quit making safe choices and dedicating yourself to treading water and take a chance on the thing you want most.