I’ve always wondered about characters who readily take the call to adventure. Why? Because frankly, if you think you’re getting a call to destiny, you should slam the phone down.
The problem is that I come from a culture that absolutely believes in “destiny” and “fate.” You’re born to be great, or born to be of no account, and not everything you do, not everything you try can avail you.
I think those who are told they have a great destiny — by reason of family, brains, or some early quality — are far more likely to be hurt by it. Those of us of whom not that much was expected — we were expected to do well, but we had no great destiny — sometimes achieve something nonetheless. But the ones who are told they’ll set the world on its ear have trouble with giving up early (and often.)
Then there is the whole matter of vocations. I don’t want to believe in vocations. I don’t want to believe you’re born to do something. What it implies about the state of the world, how its run, and the state of free will itself scares me just a little.
And yet, I was born to write, and all the times I tried to walk away from it were attempts at self harm. I hated myself because I couldn’t be perfect at it, and what’s the good of a vocation if you have to work to be good at it.
And yet it is. It is what it is. Maybe I’m just broken in the peculiar way that makes a writer.
I don’t know what to say about this, except that it ties in with my post at Mad Genius Club.
Contrary to fiction and legends, just because you fail, it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in the end. Just because you struggle, it doesn’t mean it’s not what you’re supposed to do, and just because you hit bottom, doesn’t mean you can’t rise.
And yes, I’m saying this to myself as well as to you guys.
In 2003 when I hit rock bottom on my career I was saved by that quote I put in the image above. It was found, of all places, at a Jane Austen fan group. And it gave me the impetus to work and get back in the game.
Do you have a great destiny? I have no idea. I’m not sure I believe in destiny.
Do you have a vocation? Well, either you do or you don’t, but if you keep coming to the same thing and trying to make it work, either it’s your vocation or you’re nuts. I’m okay with being nuts. Quite likely, really.
You buy everything in this world, and the most important things aren’t bought with money. They’re bought with persistence, courage, work, and sometimes something else, something that just refuses to give up.
There is a passage in Don Camillo that goes something like “Smilzo made a final effort, spit out a piece of his lung, but he did make the goal.”
Sometimes that’s what it feels like. You’re shedding bits of yourself and hurting like hell, but you push through, and you can even get there.
Oh maybe not where you intended to, but to a place you can live with.
Everyone is going to meet contretemps, set backs and, in my case, the constant sabotage of my goals by my own body. But you keep going — not in the Hillary “do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result” way — but in a sane, reevaluate, recast, reaim and try again way.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Or at least managing to do well, eventually.
And sometimes hitting the bottom is just the preparation to rise.