I’ve been listening to this song recently about a guy who stumbled onto something he was good at. He never knew he was good at it, and was only doing it for fun. He started to get a little money or publicity from it, but the guys who had done what he was doing their whole lives doubted him. But, he even though it wasn’t his original vision or how he saw his life, he fell in love with it and became one of the best.
He goes on to use an analogy of a professional basketball player who was just working on his family’s farm. His life was written out for him, and he was happy to fulfill it, but he stumbled on a basketball court and fell in love with the sound of the ball bouncing on the court. He loved it, and started doing it for fun, after his work on the farm was completed for the day. People started to notice and challenge him at higher levels of competition and doubting him because he wasn’t playing hoops his whole life. But, he proved them all wrong, and he was called up to the NBA. It was never his dream to be there, but the court found him.
I love the message in this song. It talks about doing you, being you, but if life pulls you in a different direction you own it to yourself to follow it. My whole life has been written out for me. My surroundings, and upbringing and my thoughts on my path all lead me to where I am. And, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed where I sit. Not even a little bit. I was born to be a Dad. It’s my favorite title I have. It’s the thing that gives me the most joy. All the challenges that come with it, I love them. I’m good at knowing the right moves to make, or I know the people I need to lean on for help.
When life isn’t going the way you planned lots of people just get out and start over. They leave their marriage or kids or job or whatever and move away. Thinking that a change of scenery is all they needed for their lives to be completely changed and happy. While they might work for some, I see it a bit differently. There have been times I wasn’t in the best place, not happy with my marriage or being a Dad at all. Thinking that both of those things were getting in my way of being happy. If I left all that behind I can tell you for sure I be the same miserable person I was then. My wife and I had many honest conversations and we came to a place that neither of us are afraid to talk or yell at each other. We don’t hide our feelings, and that works for us. She also called me out on the Dad I was, and the Dad she knew I could be. She saved my life during those conversations.
She changed my path. She convinced me to invest in the kids lives. She pushed me to be open and honest with myself and she gave me the confidence to start writing. She didn’t tell me to start a site or post my first long story on what it is like to be a dance dad, but she knew there was more to me what I was showing.
So, I started to write and what I noticed is that I was finding myself. I was starting to find my voice, my passion. The tribe stories and the way I’m able to express myself with words is what drives me. Similar to that guy on the farm, I just liked the words and how I felt when writing them. Then, I started to get some love on the stories. People who felt similar to me, or could laugh at something I said. I never expected any attention, in fact, I expected my friends to bust my chops and call me a wimp. But, that isn’t the reaction I got. I got the exact opposite, friends and family telling me to keep writing, telling me to continue on this new path I was on.
So, I took a few of my stories and I submitted them to big publications. I did it for a few reasons. One, maybe they would read it and I would get a 3 book deal and I could write for love and money and follow the standard path. Now, if that happened I would have jumped right in, because I really want to see where this writing goes. But, more importantly for me, I did it because I was ready for whatever. I was ready for them to write back saying I was a dummy and I was bad at sentence structure and my rambling thoughts could not connect the reader to what I was saying. I got back nothing other than “your story was not selected.” I didn’t get the reaction I thought I needed. I thought the critique would show me the path I needed to take. But, then I realized there is no path, this story, my story, is going to be written and created by me. I must take my machete into the woods with me and create my path, follow my passion to where I want it to go.
While writing I have found myself. Not just in writing either, I opened my eyes and I found I have a passion for women’s issues. My daughter helped me find that, but honestly, if I wasn’t writing and open to listen to her I probably would have just let the words in one ear and out the other, but now I HEAR what she is saying. I find myself reposting little jokes about a girl showing a man she can do anything. I text my kids when the abortion laws were overturned and abortion again became legal in Alabama and other states. I love reading stories of a woman achieving something and being able to share that with my girls.
I’m far from where I want to be. My goals are, at this time, very far away. If you saw them you’d say “no chance”. When I started writing I would get excited when a story had 10 views. I couldn’t believe 10 people (some outside my tribe) actually sat and read a thousand word story I wrote. And then I started expecting it. I’d write a story and constantly check the views. Then, I wrote a fiction piece that I loved and like 5 people read it. I wrote a little more on it, and 3 people read it, then the last one I posted maybe had those same 3 people. But, it was my favorite thing I wrote. It was the most challenging for me. I had to remember characters and storylines each time I put more words in a story. I fell in love with that story, and I have been writing it more and more each day. I don’t post it, because I’m writing it just for me now. Maybe someday I will post the whole thing, or I’ll try to publish it, but for now I control it. Nothing about that story controls me.
I say all this because it’s never too late to follow a dream, or it’s never to late to find a dream. If it interests you, invest in it. I hate being preachy, but I feel like I wasn’t awake until I started investing in my kids and my marriage. It’s like someone or something told me that if I opened my eyes I would get way more out of this life that I ever imagined. Sometimes it can be God, or whatever it is you pray to, but for me it was my wife. It’s like she handed me the machete and pointed me in the direction she knew I needed to go in. She didn’t cut the path for me, she just gave me the right tools and pushed me into the woods and said she and the kids would be with me on whatever journey I took.
Never stop dreaming and reaching…