Is it a Leap of Faith, or the Leap of a Lemming?

When people take a big chance, succeed and talk about it later, they’ll often call it a leap of faith. When people fail they’re more apt to describe it as following fellow lemmings off the edge of a cliff.

I recently saw a quote attributed to Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Stardust, American Gods). It said something about having two choices: to make art, or not to. If you chose not to you might miss the opportunity to make a difference to someone. I’m all over that point of view. Making a difference is the point of doing the video project. It’s the point of life. Finding my way to make a difference to someone is makes anything worthwhile.

I like the quote and it sounds like Gaiman, but I still tried to confirm that it was, in fact, his, because, you know. You can’t trust a meme, and while it’s a great thought, misquoting someone is still spreading things that aren’t true. I wasn’t able to confirm the quote in the amount of time I was willing to put to it, but I did find this commencement speech where Gaiman gives other great advice with adorable impishness.

Some of the things he said made old feelings of missing out resurface. Not in the sense that we’re the same age and he’s so accomplished, both in art and in having comfortable means. Comparing yourself to some of the most successful people in the world is a time tested recipe for unhappiness. But, still, even without using him as my measuring stick, I did feel a sense of non-accomplishment that was mostly career related and completely about where some of my own choices led.

I’ve had a good enough life so far, and caught a lot of serendipitous wonder. Not much of that led to a coherent career or much income, though. I never had the chutzpah to fake it till I made it the way Gaiman did. I married the fall after graduating high school. My priorities always led me to choose family or the road less traveled, and while money can get you the opportunity to do some things, it’s the actual doing of things that I find so much more compelling.

My only real regrets come when I’m trying to figure out what I should be doing financially to prepare for those “golden years” that are closing in so fast that I’m looking at some of them in the rear view mirror. I’m willing to buy into the theory that if you do what you love the money will come, but when people advise that, they’re not talking about being a stay at home parent, which I did a lot of, or a care giving grandparent, which I’m doing a lot of now. So far, I haven’t focused enough on money to see that my life or aspirations are appropriately funded. Choosing not to budget income for myself in the video project I want to do next indicates a failure to learn in that respect. I’ve thought so many times about budgeting a salary for myself, but, due to time, equipment and the nights away from home that keep the project low impact, I’m really nervous about how expensive the project is without it. Yet, if the project is worthy, it seems I should be able to support myself while doing it.

Deciding whether or not to do art is the question that sent me on the search that brought me to a commencement speech that danced so beautifully around all the issues currently at play in my life. I’m not a young new graduate like those in the audience, though. and, there will be creative aspects, but I don’t know that you would call my main video project “art”. Still, I face so many of the same issues. How do you pursue the project that could make a difference and still make a living? My biggest difference from that audience is that I have less time to recover from mistakes that hurt my financial wellbeing.

The decision to do/be or not to do/be is easier if you didn’t make that family starting decision first. Eating Saltines (or nothing) till payday is so survivable if you’re only subjecting yourself to it. Asking children to do without so that you can chase a dream is different. It’s not that I didn’t realize that, but growing up in the rural south before so many of the glass ceilings were shattered, I just fell into what my mother did, marry young and start a family. When I could take chances with the abandon of youth, I took someone’s hand instead. That didn’t work out so well for me as it did for my mother. I keep finding myself at the center of a plot that nearly comes together and makes sense, then falls apart again. I get frustrated when a mini-series does that. Imagine how I feel with it being my life instead?

Neil’s obvious advice is to make the art, to do the thing, to be. That’s what I what I want, to make a difference to as many someones as I can, however I can.

I’m willing to admit that maybe it’s something else that I’m supposed to be doing. I hope it’s the Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga project because I believe in it. What ever it turns out to be though, I hope I find which something I need to be doing soon. It’s not just the challenges of the moment, the rounds with Covid and other illnesses, the burst water pipe, the series of computer failures, the newly discovered thousands I’m about to spend on my car, the unfinished renovation on our fixer upper house, the dilemma about what to do with the Etsy Store, the job and family stresses, or the effort to keep up with training. It’s the limbo that’s killing me.

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