Think about that for a moment while I clarify. What do you want to do. You. The most basic, silly thing in the depth of your childish, silly soul. Snow ski every weekend? That’s my son’s dream. Snorkel every day? A lady I met in Kauai. Travel the world? A couple I know that sold their house, bought a boat, and sailed off. Own a car? Sleep late? Wait, sleep late? Does that sound stupid? I hope not, or actually, I should say I don’t really care. I’ve always loved to sleep in. It’s a guilty pleasure, and I dreamed of the day that I would be an adult and be able to control my schedule!! What a dream come true. Well guess what? For the most part I do. An early morning for me is 8AM. A common time for me is 9AM, and some days it’s 10 to 11AM. I used to feel guilty about that, until I realized I was an adult, and staying up until 4AM writing or painting, or even working on a hair education project, was a perfectly valid “lifestyle” choice. I made it happen.
That’s just me though, maybe you want to be an artist or a musician. I’ve done both, and I’ve fit them into my life when and where I want to. Sometimes I can’t paint, I just can’t do it, it seems too overwhelming, so I write, or garden, or bonsai, or nap, or shop, or dozens of other things I’ve worked to master over my 47 years of life.
So what is it you want to do? Because you can do it. Skydive? I know I could. I love every single amusement ride ever created in any park I’ve been to. I’ll ride pretty much anything, yes in fact I would try a jet pack thank you very much. Glass bridge over the Grand Canyon? Yes, in fact I will do that if the opportunity arrives. Skydiving? Maybe, it just seems like a lot of work to me. Deep sea diving, ugh, too many classes, not enough pay off. Water skiing? Oh sorry, been there, done that very well thank you.
Along the way I discovered the secret to success. And the funny thing is, every single one of us knows it on some level. We know it, and deny it. We deny it out of a fear so great that we won’t even admit it to ourselves. We’ve heard it hundreds of times from every advice guru from Dear Abby to Dan Savage, and they’ve all probably said it on a monthly basis.
The simple fact? We all fear the unknown, and success is the ultimate unknown. What if we fail at success? Well of course then we know for absolutely sure we’re a failure, don’t we?. If I haven’t failed at success yet, well, average is still working toward success, right?
But it’s funny. What is failure? There’s no such thing. The only failure you can ever face is failing yourself. People may scoff, but truly, there are extremely few people out there who give a passing thought to you and your successes or failures. Don’t think of that as an insult! It’s true; try this, the next time you have a lunch break at work that allows you to leave the office, go to lunch, call any of your friends at work and ask them what shirt or blouse you’re wearing today. The majority of people will be embarrassed to admit they have no idea, and the one that does, is probably the guy in the stock room who creeps you out.
Then you’ll realize the true freedom it brings you. If you came out as gay tomorrow (hypothetically of course) within 1 year, pretty much everybody you work with wouldn’t even remember when you weren’t gay, and they wouldn’t truly care. That’s the truth of the world. Only therapists, spouses, (and hair stylists) pay attention, and you pay them one way or the other.
If you’ve gotten to the age of 30 (give or take for life experience and general intelligence of different personality types) you’ve weathered a lot of the worst of what life can hand you, and you are usually fairly mature. Personally, I feel I got there around 20 (my mother would most likely say younger). By the time I was in my 20’s, I knew I was screwing up my life and the lives of others (though time would prove even that depressing belief wrong), but I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the life I’d built around me. Literally, I mean, you know, the closet and all. But in the end I finally realized, I was the only person who was keeping me where I was. If I worked everything out in a reasoned, and adult manner, I could make it okay. 99% of what we fear doesn’t come true, and the 1% that does is nothing like we expect, so fearing it does no good. I was afraid that I had built a family that I would destroy if I tried to change it. But I forgot, my ex-wife is family, I love her more than a mere sister, and we have raised a son who knows he’s loved by dozens of people. It wasn’t until years later I could look back and say, yah, that wasn’t really so bad now, was it?
But here’s the thing, you want to know the secret to success? You simply have to believe you can do it. I know it sounds metaphysical, mystical, new age-y, yada yada yada, but listen, I do have a purely sound, experienced, and reasoned point.
Everything I’ve ever tried to do in my life I did. I was a straight A student, I thought I was supposed to be. Nobody praised me for it, it just was. I was terrified of water skiing growing up. Oh I could swim perfectly well by the age of 10, we had a pool in our back yard, it was quite frankly life or death with a pool in the 70’s. and I knew I could do it. I wasn’t afraid of water skiing itself, but failing in front of my whole family was unthinkable. So I never tried. Until I moved to California, moved in with my mother, and forgot that I was afraid to fail. The first time out skiing I got up, and skied like a seasoned beginner. The only difference was that I was convinced I had watched it enough to know exactly what to do, and I didn’t care if I could do it or not. In other words, with nothing to lose, I knew I could do it, and I did.
Everything I’ve ever wanted to do I have done, and I will continue to do more. “There is no try, there is only do, or do not”. In my first 45 years, for instance; I’ve auditioned for a reality cable series, learned to ride, and in fact own and can still ride a unicycle, am fairly good at horse riding and husbandry (my ex-wife might disagree, and I would have to stand by her expert opinion), I’ve owned two successful small businesses, opening one from scratch in under 2 months, I’ve learned to paint, draw, write (hem), dance, sing (as a child), play trumpet, baritone horn, and french horn (though not recently), and help raise one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, I could literally go on and on, but I’ve actually managed to embarrass myself.
The point I’m trying to make is this: I’m not special. Honestly, I’m not bragging, I have never done anything that somebody else couldn’t do if they wanted to, and many of you could probably do it much better. I truly believe that. The way I explain it is simple. You may not be a Hemingway, but you can learn to write a letter (or email), you may not be Fred Astaire (or Channing Tatum if you prefer), but you can learn to dance, and you may not be Michelangelo, but you can learn to paint, but if you try everything you can, you will succeed at at least one, and if you want, possibly more!.
I’m trying to push the point as hard as I know how. If you want to do something you can. And don’t give me any bullshit about being old, or young, or fat, or ugly, or boring, or any other blah, blah, blah. Nobody cares. Life isn’t fair, nobody’s keeping score except you. When you talk, people are trying to figure out how to be relevant, so just listen. When you dance, people are just trying to figure out how you can be so brave, so entertain them. When you tell a story, people want to hear about your life, but they want to know that it can be there’s as well, so share it. You’re not being judged, because 99% of the population is too pre-occupied with their own life to pay attention to somebody else’s.
It’s my life to live, and it’s pass/fail. I truly 100% believe, and I credit 100% of my success, to the fact that I wanted to do it, and was brave enough to try. Did I mention my 2 years of culinary school? You should try my Chicken crepes, cream of mushroom soup, and/or my 100% from scratch Sour cherry and almond pie. I got an A on it in pastry class.