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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Free yourself

One of the blogs I follow is Zen Pencils, written and drawn by a man named Gavin Aung Than. Gav is a freelance cartoonist who lives in Melbourne, Australia. He takes quotes from famous people and sets them to inspirational cartoons. After looking at the first one, I was hooked. Fans suggest quotes from people and Gav turns them into works of art. He's put it all together in a book and there more than a few requests to have his work made into motivational posters. As always, he quotes sources and does a bit of research behind each work.
One of his latest works I could relate to.
I can't speak for everyone, but I can see myself in the slave/drone pictured in the illustration. In the past I've said that retail is where souls go to die. I would amend that to say all customer service jobs are where you will find the beaten, downtrodden folk who have all but given up hope for a better life. Simply put; it is the path of least resistance. A person can work their fingers to the bone and have very little to show for it.
Reading that last paragraph, one can think that I'm cynical and bitter. Perhaps I'm a little angry with myself because I took the path of least resistance (or the quickest paycheck), and it took me several years, decades even, to figure it out it may not have been the best way to go about life.
Many moons ago, right as I got out of high school, I heard through a friend of a friend that an advertising agency was looking for an intern. My friend suggested that with my collection of drawings I should put together a portfolio. The prospect sounded intriguing as well as frightening. Almost the same week I heard Pizza Hut was hiring. To my young mind the process of getting a steady paycheck and tips every week sounded better than maybe getting a job where I had to wear a tie, and it may lead to a paycheck. If I had an ounce of sense at that age, I would have put together a portfolio while working at Pizza Hut. Years went by. Employment changed, but not the job. Lying to myself became the order of the day. I was too tired. I'm too old/young/fat/insert excuse here. Before I knew it four or five years slipped away. Life reasserted itself. A wife and kids to feed, bills to pay. Twenty more years went by.
If anyone is to blame, put that square on me. Perhaps I made the choice to put my dreams on hold to keep a roof over our heads. At the time it felt like the only choice available, but I'm here to tell you it's not. It only took about ten years for me to figure out how to make my life better.
It started like this: I got up inside the dusty attic of my brain and started to throw switches and pull levers.
For the longest time I noticed the oldest worker on whatever crew I was in at the time, started to not look so old. I was closer in age to them than I was the young bucks just joining us for the summer season. Occasionally I would be referred to as a dinosaur and did I really know what 70's music sounded like? Running away from such a scenario may seem like a good idea, but it's the kind of situation that follows you where ever you go. The watershed moment was when the oldest guy at my work, who also flipped burgers down at the Whataburger, took a hammer to his wife's skull. Not pretty and definitely a waste of precious life. Not wanting to be in my sixties and holding down two minimum wage jobs was motivation enough. I felt the need to do what I should have done years ago. 
So even though I was tired, or the Spurs were playing in the finals, I would sit down in front of the keyboard and bang away. A blog entry or a short story at first. Then came my attempts to make something bigger. I built up my writing ability little by little, one sentence at a time. It didn't happen over night. Lightening did not strike. The money fairy skipped my house. What I did do was hone my skill until it was ready, then I sharpened it some more.
Today I got some good news. I told a few people and family, but I don't want to jinx it by announcing it to the world before it's official. One of those house of cards situations where I don't want to breathe to heavily and have the whole shebang collapse.

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