The Follies of Self-Help

22 Jul

I do not believe in dumping an old life and wandering into the great unknown unless that old life is completely horrible.  

And I don’t believe keeping things the same is healthy either.

Let me explain.  There’s a TON of websites/books/tv shows/whatever that encourage you to dump everything and follow your dream.  Leave your corporate job!  Leave it all behind!  Do what you love and people will pay you for it!  Sounds like magic doesn’t it?

Dumping it all and leaving it all behind initially starts the wheel of fortune turning, and it can land anywhere.   There’s certain key times in life where this is a good thing, every young adult needs to do it at least once to get their own life, people in terrible situations need to do it to do it to escape, and there’s other times–due to grief and pain that it’s definitely warranted.  

But what of the rest of us?  The rest of us who have families and commitments and bills, who cannot swing from one vine to another on blind faith and nothing else, who have children who depend on us, who crave creativity and freedom but choose to limit that for a greater freedom later.  What of us.

We choose another way–we choose to grow from this place rather than uproot and replant. 

Uproot and replant is risky, therefore is best for the times in life where taking a risk gives a greater chance in making things better.  However, a lot of the self help places seem to think that taking a risk will magically give you the things they want, that the uprooting and moving is part of it.  Perhaps it was for them, but for many it’s not.

It’s not for the alcoholic who moves to a new city and starts drinking again instead of pursuing her art.  It’s not for the personal assistant who quits to write and ends up being a personal assistant again in six months.  It’s not for the mother who left it all behind to be a musician and then has to wait tables because kids are expensive and need more than hopes and dreams.

I am here to tell you, and myself, that we can move ahead without taking those risks–the growing from this place, the making art even though we have kids and dayjobs and whatever else, the having that passion despite our circumstances, in fact of having these circumstances fuel our passions even more.  

I want people to open up the idea of happiness, to crack that egg open wide and know that it is not putting ourselves in the ideal situation.  Happiness has nothing to do with that–we are not orchids that need to be set in greenhouses to thrive.  We are weeds, marvelous beautiful weeds, that grow out of ruins and wreckages and dry offices and broken relationships and grey days and retail and the rest.   And it’s all part of it, it’s all our fuel.

So stop waiting.  Don’t give up.  Keep going.  Grow from this place.   

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