No way! No way I could’ve foreseen what this year would bring!
Almost a year ago, I was merely picking up the pieces. For I have lost myself in a love, as I have done so many times before; and it would take my falling hard — so hard! — to never do that again.
Of course, as before, I’ve gotten up, gotten myself a job and an apartment, fixed myself up, fell back into another love. Didn’t like the job, got a better job; made lists of desires and dreams, went for them. Started a project — balls out! — got an odd gig to support myself through it; the gig went under, but I already had something else lined-up. Watched a love depart — fell down again. Got up, continued the project, left the better job, became self-employed. Made more lists, with new desires and clearer dreams.
True to my feline nature, I tend to land on my feet. Never out of a job or a dream, I am not the one with a failing ability to survive. But oh so much time has been wasted on the anticipation of the fall! Fears have turned my memories of time into rubber. Days, pages of journals, other people’s attention has been wasted on my doubts. And every single time, in the past, I noticed the faces of my comrades get skewed by a slight disappointment:
“A Woulda Coulda Shoulda — just doesn’t become you, V!”
No way! No way I could’ve foreseen that doubt would suddenly become a new allergy of mine, making my entire body short circuit with impatience and annoyance: I know better than that. I AM — better than that. These days, I shake it off, like a midnight shiver or an atrocious sight I’d like to forget. And forward I launch. Balls out!
“You know who would’ve have been eighty years ago?” a beautiful boy-child was asking me last night.
“I dunno,” I was chuckling, tickled to the outer edges of adoration by this creature’s innocence and kindness. “A suffragette?”
“Amelia Earhart!” he said with such a surplus of conviction, I had to stop chuckling. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers.”
Damn, I thought, he just did that! That beautiful boy-child simply launched into a quote by the very epitome of courage, on courage — balls out! — and with his uncensored act of curiosity and goodness, he then resurrected me. Because that’s what they would much rather do — my comrades! — remind me that a Woulda Coulda Shoulda just doesn’t become me.
Let me do that one again:
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers.”
When I started my rant blog — 157 days and nearly 30,000 hits ago — no way (NO WAY!) I could’ve foreseen the obstacles and the lessons. There would be, of course, lessons in my own craft and discipline. I had hoped for those! But even then, I couldn’t have imagined the amount of skill that a curiosity equipped with courage could deliver. The unforeseen has also brought on quite a bit of unexpected pain. I could NOT have predicted the insecurities of others that my acts of personal courage would activate. Neither was I prepared for being misunderstood, dismissed, or hated upon. I had no idea so many humans anticipated another comrade’s fall, in this world!
And so, recently, when yet another human had given me grief — hitting below the belt this time, via his intimate knowledge of me — wrathfully, I thought:
“Don’t you dare doubt yourself!” (Well, actually, I first thought: “What the fuck?!”; then gathered my graces and thought the other thing.)
Because I could waste more time on making new lists of how I want my art to be perceived. I could worry about my image and the memories I would leave behind. I could undermine my courage or my character by writing retractions to suit every single person I could’ve possibly offended along the way. I could do all that; but a Woulda Coulda Shoulda just doesn’t fucking become me!
Every visionary I have ever admired, every artist ahead of his or her time, every leader that had stepped up during times of historical changes — they all had to have had these growing pains. I may not have the audacity to aspire to be in the same category with Susan Sontag or Zadie Smith, Vladimir Nabokov or Junot Diaz. Roth, Bukowski, or Lahiri. I am no Frida Kahlo or Yoko Ono; and I am a fucking galaxy away from Lady Gaga.
But I do have the audacity to aspire to their courage: The courage that is takes to make up a mind — and to act. The courage that demands to finally put away all those lists of desires and dreams. To stop venting to your comrades about the challenges and the fears, the betrayals and the growing pains. To stop apologizing for your vision, for your ability to dream. To undermine your talent, skills, education, history — with doubt. To retract for the sake of those whose most treasured outlet in life is to tear down those who scare them — those who fucking dare to dare! But to make a decision — balls out! — and to do. To act. To be: To be precisely the YOU that your talent, skills, education and history has created. To live up to the potential of the magnificent, the authentic being that every one of us — already IS.
And so I say:
To every dreamer that may have stumbled upon this page by accident or every comrade that continues to return to it by devotion: A Woulda Coulda Shoulda just doesn’t become you. Make a decision and go for it: Balls out!
Don’t you dare doubt yourself! If your vision is true, don’t retract it. Get to the edge and jump.
Your people — truly your people — will stand by you, I promise: Because in their eyes, you are already already equipped with wings. They’ve just been waiting for you to start soaring.
There will be many challenges. But there will also be new heights, new sights, new comrades. And as Amelia Earhart once dared to say:
“You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
Let me do that one again:
“[T]he procedure, the process is its own reward.”
Balls out, comrades! See you in mid-flight.