Try It Without A Safety Net

What is your goal in life?

Not enough people think about that question.  Let me change that.  Not enough people who have the time and money to think about that question, think about that question.  The opportunity to contemplate your life goals is a first world opportunity.  Most people in the world (a great many of them in this country) don’t have the time, money, or inclination to contemplate such a thought.  They are busy trying to buy food and sleep out of the rain.

However, those of us who are blessed enough to have the time and money don’t have the inclination to think about this question.  At least not consciously.  Or better yet, mindfully.

Everyone goes through the “I want to be an astronaut/doctor/athlete” phase when they are a kid.  Usually we grow out of it when we are confronted with all the work (and math) it takes to get there.  As we get older, most people have a more developed sense of what they want out of life.  Mostly, it is a vague idea of some place they want to be and an accumulation of cool things.

To me your goals in life are more complicated and involved then I want to have a cool car and live in a big house.  Those things may occur with the accomplishment of your life goals, but not always.  In this country, we are afforded the opportunity to not only say what do I want to be but who do I want to be and that to me is the essence of your life goals.

Some people are lucky.  They know what their life goals are early.  They direct themselves towards it with a beautiful drive and passion.  Then there are others (such as this writer), for whom it takes time to find your goals and understand how to accomplish them.

Maybe that is wrong.  Maybe these others always knew what it was they wanted to accomplish, but they acquiesced to the warm embrace of the safety net.  You know the safety net.  You tell someone you want to try something that is difficult, that has a high rate of failure and they respond by telling you to “Have something to fall back on.”

I have learned that if you are given something to fall back on, you will.  As humans, we tend towards the path of least resistance and most comfort.  In any of the creative endeavors the safety net is a trap.  Success is elusive and fleeting and if you have a safety net, there are times when its allure is too much to resist.  Like in those times when you are juggling credit card balances between three different cards or you have to go into the grocery store with a calculator and your exact checking and credit card balances so you get as much food as you can afford without going broke for the week.  Fun times, fun times.  That safety net looks awfully good in those moments.

This isn’t to say you should prepare yourself for the worst case of your goal falling through.  It is like hitting a golf ball over a water hazard.  If you concentrate on avoiding the water hazard, you will hit the water hazard.  The trick is knowing where the hazard is, ignoring it, and concentrating on putting the ball in the fairway.

What I guess I’ve been getting at through all of this is, if you are someone who is thinking about trying something crazy like becoming a musician, novelist, actor, painter, etc. do it.  Concentrate on the skills you need to accomplish that goal and focus on that goal.  If you don’t succeed in your primary objective the things you have learned will come in handy in what you eventually end up doing.  If you know a person who is thinking about doing those things, support them and quit telling them about safety nets.  All they hear is that you believe they will fail.

My thoughts are muddled this morning.  I think its time I started revising the book I wrote in April through Camp NANOWRIMO.  My mind keeps drifting back towards the characters and the plot and the beginning and the ending.  I can see the changes I think I’ll make.  I also just want to go spend some more time with those people.  I’ve left some incomplete and I want to make them as real and as true as possible.

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