Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There is no try

I was taken by an interview with Nora Ephron this morning on NPR. She told of a dear friend with whom she often played the game, "Last meal." It's not so much a game as a conversation, where you share you're favorite foods, those you'd request on death row the night before your execution. She noted that the last time they played, her friend was dying of throat cancer and could not have eaten her favorite meal even if she'd wanted to. Ephron's advice: whatever your last meal is, eat it. Everyday if you can. Whatever it is you want to do, do it now.

My friend Gail and I do something similar, discussing our bucket lists. She recently took her 80-year-old mother zip-lining. That's the gist of this rambling thought bubble.

The Ephron interview has lingered with me all day. I mentioned it to a friend and co-worker, a woman who would love to escape the pressure of her day-to-day, retire and motor-coach the country, but "can't."
"If only we could all afford to do that," she said. What she doesn't know is that Nora's favorite food was a hot dog. Certainly, money does buy opportunity, and if your heart's desire is beluga caviar and Kobe filet mignon and you currently live under a bridge in a cardboard box, meager means are an obstacle. But in many cases, our reticence to go after what we want is not for poverty's sake, but for simple fear of failure, aversion to change, unwillingness or lack of confidence to believe that, in doing our best, we will, in fact, do well. The stars don't have to be perfectly aligned, nor must our venture be amply capitalized to succeed. To quote Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." My co-worker has postponed surgery, forsaken time off and made undue sacrifices over the years, giving up bits of her life to a corporation that doesn't give a gnats toenail about her. She's now postponed her retirement another two years. Two years is forever. It's also a blip.

Outside the bank, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive in Gunnison. It has to be. The economy is soft everywhere these days, but this has never been a place where regular jobs are the norm. Few get rich, but they seem happier here, masters of their own destiny.

I'm impressed by the creative, resourceful ways friends make a living here. Even my husband, half a world away, is inspiring, for his undaunted pursuit of coffee perfection in the rainforest.  I credit their influence with sparking this epiphany. And Nora Ephron, for fanning the flame.

 I am not cut out for corporate life, nor am I suited for government work. It's all I can do not to roll my eyes in most staff meetings. The superficial rah-rah? Can't do it. And yet, I've been searching, applying for, scouring the employment posts for just such a job. I hold one of them right now. Starting your own business, doing your own thing -- that's a huge risk. It takes enormous cojones. There are plenty of practical, well-meaning loved ones happy to point out the merits of a secure paycheck and benefits, reminding you of all the obstacles and pitfalls with each numskull idea you've -- I've -- ever hatched. High risk of failure and discouragement have kept me employed by someone, or searching for so-called secure employment -- lately in vein -- all my life. The crux of this revelation, the lightbulb over the head part, is that I've finally hit on something, a business idea I can pursue now, without huge capital investment, utilizing my only two skills. (One of which, if I may be so bold to say, is writing.)

What is it, you ask? Patience, grasshopper. I'll unveil it soon. Stay tuned.

The crazy, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-drawers kid has returned from a rumplestiltskinian nap, ready to break free of adulthood's evil, stifling clutches. From now on, spontaneity rules. Ideas rule. Creativity rules.