Turns out, I'm not going to live forever. It also happens that if I want children, my childless days will be coming to a rapid halt in the very near future. I'll be 37 in July, guys. Which gives me a rather short span of time to do everything I want to do ever before kids muck it all up. So in the next year or two, I need to have many amazing adventures, spend a month in Bali and France, learn how to earn a lot of money while also having plenty of time to hang out with babies, and, I dunno, buy a house or something. It's a hefty to-do list. What does a person do when they suddenly realize they don't have forever to do all the things they want in life? If you're me, you decide to devote yourself wholeheartedly to writing animal stories, and pretending you have answers on youtube. Because animal stories are obviously the way to get to Bali and also have plenty of money to pay for babies. Cough.
I'm forging a path that doesn't necessarily make good, common sense. Do I believe it's possible to have what I truly want in life? Absolutely. Do I have any idea how to do it? Nope. But to build the life you want, one that doesn't necessarily look like everyone else's, you have to listen to yourself. You have to get really clear on what you truly want to do, what you truly have to offer, and offer it up in the best way you can in that moment.
I have anywhere from one to three years to make a lot of things happen for myself before it's baby go-time. It feels more possible than ever, but only if I follow my intuition. Because that's the only thing that can tell me how to get where I really want to go.
I literally wrote the book on freelance writing (fine, one of the many books on freelance writing), but I've started to realize that freelance writing isn't actually what I want to do. I don't want to write for other publications, I don't want to hustle, I don't want to pitch. It exhausts and drains me and it's taken me fifteen years to admit that. In Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield talks about shadow careers, about career paths that resemble what you want to do but are really just a form of resistance. I've been resisting what I actually want to do for a decade and a half now. In many ways, I do love freelance writing. I love talking to people about their jobs and their passions and their businesses and I love writing about burlesque dancers and chefs and mountain climbers and canny CEOS. And I will happily continue to do it until what I actually want to do begins to make sense in the real world.
Here's the paradox: In order for writing animal stories to make sense as a career choice in the real world, I have to abandon the real world. I have to allow myself to dream in a way that felt foreign even just a few months ago. Because I want to be an artist - yes, a writer, but not a writer in any of its more professional, practical forms. I want to write ridiculous stories about talking raccoons who wear cravats and go on adventures. I want to channel for people, something that I still have trouble saying out loud because what?
Owning what you really want isn't always easy, especially when what you really want wouldn't make sense to most people you pass on the street. But that just makes it even more essential that you do it. We need the strange and unconventional and creative in this world now more than ever. Because if we keep doing it the way we've always done, we'll keep getting what we've always gotten.
Last week, we drove along the coast of California until we hit Esalen in Big Sur. When we pulled up to the gate, they handed us a key that sent us here:
Sometimes the universe sends you a literal and unmissable sign, and that sign says, "Go right ahead and be an artist, you irrepressible hippie, you." And so I shall.