Thursday, June 5, 2014

Celebrate your small victories.

I’ve been in trouble my whole life, and I didn’t even recognize it.

Destined to always try and reach for an accomplishment higher, cooler, more rewarding than the one before, I’d set forth on a path that would always be unfulfilled.

As with most parents, mine spent their parenting time telling me I could do and be anything I wanted. They also told me no matter what I did, so long as I was happy, they would also be happy. I grew up believing all of those things, and it’s great when you finally realize hard work, patience, and a certain level of skill pays off. You really can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

My parents continued to have goals and dreams as I grew up, and it was a beautiful thing to witness. But not generic goals and dreams. Anyone who knew my father, in particular, knew that he was capable of conquering worlds, and frequently conquered many of the goals he set out to achieve at a pace and precision that no one could fathom. He was a dreamer, he was a doer, and he brought everyone he loved along on the journey. He pushed everyone he knew to tap into their potential, and there are so many people out there who can credit their turning point toward success to simply his desire to see them succeed. He instilled the idea that anything was possible. Anything at all.

And he instilled it in me. It burrowed down, deeply into my being, and it hasn’t ever wavered or abandoned me.

Up until the end of last year, I’d spent a good deal of time committing myself to an insane number of projects across all spectrums of the stuff I love. Art, writing, anything I could get my hands on that was either something I loved or a great opportunity. I am not one to turn down an opportunity (in fact, I come with a built-in opportunity radar).

When 2013 came to a close, I set to focus on five key projects I’d been working on for a very long time that I finally wanted to see succeed. My manuscript, improving my art and putting out amazing watercolor pieces, my indie store (oh, The Fancy Narwhal, I’m so sorry…) and Estari were four out of the five.

Moving into 2014 was great. I felt much freer than I had in previous years with no direction, dropping things to submit art shows and selling things are faires on a whim and where stories and thoughts and ideas buried me beneath a sea of unfinished projects.

True to my personality, it wasn’t long before t began picking up projects again. I saw potential in these projects—I saw the end result. What something had the potential to be. Because I needed the feeling, the rush of accomplishing something huge.

I’ve always needed that, but for some reason finishing a project, even when the results are even better than I’d wildly imagine, was never the same as the excitement of starting one. The long slog through the project to see it through. I’d spent a long time thinking about it, always crediting it to the idea I achieved something and now needed to move forward and prove to myself I could accomplish something else.

Yesterday, my friend and I finally launched our comic, Estari, after over two years of figuring out the puzzle pieces. I spent the weeks leading up to it being scared, nervous, stressed. When launch day came, there were still dozens of things to do (mostly website changes, thank goodness for Joe), but I couldn’t help feeling a very strong sense of pride.

Strangely, it upset me.

Why was I so excited to launch this?

What was so important about posting a couple of pages and showing off a nice website? It wasn’t as though we were standing to release it to thousands of people and achieve some sort of crazy following. We aren't making money off of it.

I wondered if people would sort of laugh and think, “Man, they are making a big deal out of a launch. Good job, you put up a couple of pages. A couple of pages does not a book make."

The comic isn’t finished, what’s the big deal?

And then it hit me. Hard.

No, no the comic ISN’T finished, but, shit, it may never be. It’s open-ended, it has the potential to grow in dozens of directions and spawn dozens more stories. There may never be a final, end all be all. There may never be a nicely wrapped conclusion.

It called up a memory of something I’d read. A published author said a few key things seeking to dispel notions that the lives of aspiring-to-be-published authors would dramatically change once they were published. When you’ve finally reached the pinnacle achievement, publishing, awesome. You did it.

But just because you’ve published, your fears don’t leave you. You still will feel inadequate at times. You won’t feel like you’ve achieved everything and now you can lie down and be done because your life’s work is accomplished.

No. You’ll just do the same thing all over again.

Forever, if you choose to keep writing and publishing stories. You’ll want more, forever, and maybe that feeling of ‘arriving’ will never come. Just like when your birthday arrives and you expect, for some reason, to feel different now that you’ve officially aged a year. So enjoy it all.

Yes, that.

That’s the key right there.

I’d spent so much of my life waiting to be thrilled by the end results, and I was disappointed at every turn, constantly launching into something new. I think there’s something to be said about a constant drive to create something new spurred on by the idea of creating something better than before. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. You can still be driven AND enjoy the small achievements along the way.

My father has been gone for three years now, and there isn’t a day that I don’t think about him or how short the time is we have to do all the things we
dream of doing.

Enjoy it ALL. Enjoy the ideas, the processes, the hard work. Celebrate it all. Everything. Love it as you live it.

Even if you never make it to the final conclusion of what your dream was meant to be, man, you fucking enjoyed it. And if you get there and it wasn’t all of the things you’d imagined it would be. You know what?

Man, you fucking enjoyed it.

Live it, friends.

Celebrate your small victories, for any victory isn't small at all.