Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Better to be a Happy Pauper Than a Miserable Prince." – Part III, or "What if I'm an UNhappy Pauper?"

(I'm writing this during a low point of my life, so my apologies in advance for unintended negativisms that may creep in. As far as the intended negativisms ... Well, you'll just have to sort them out yourself.)

There's only one thing, really, that is worse than being miserable and rich:
Being miserable and poor.

"Alright, Clyde," I can hear you saying, "You're stating the obvious. What's your solution?"

MY solution is to try to find an alternative means of income that works for me. Specifically, writing. That it has earned me no income yet is beside the point. You don't know how often I've felt like chucking it all, burning it all down to ashes, and go running into the night, screaming.. Yet, I'm always drawn back to putting words to paper, or electrons to computer screen, or whatever. In spite of myself. When the pipeline from my muse is running hot I can write reams in a day. Which is good, because that gives me a lot to edit and clean up, and afterward I am actually left with something.

Even if it doesn't make me rich, it helps make me happy.

Now, what YOU do has to come from inside YOU. I cannot tell you what is in your soul to do. Like a carpenter I work at crafting my house of words so it can stand on it's own, and when I change a word, add a comma, clean up a phrase, it is with the desire to craft a house with square corners, tight-fitting windows and doors, well balanced proportions, and toned with an appropriate use of paint for walls and trim. Your work, whatever you choose to do, should come under the same exacting scrutiny that only you can give to it.

There's a Ballad of John Henry done by the New Christy Minstrels some decades back that contains the lines:

"... I can work all day in the burning sun, and lay ev'ry stroke just right,
And when you're talkin' quits, I've just begun, and I'll finish it, just for spite..."

That's what I'm talking about. Every time John Henry came down on that star drill it bit the rock and rang with a purpose. Every bit of of the force of the blow was transmitted to the rock; none was wasted, all of it was used. And it was the dedication to the precision of purpose that made John Henry the legend he was.

While the legend has it that he died in the effort to best the machine, he still won. All the machine could do was attack the rock with brute force. John Henry did so with a focus of purpose and a song in his heart.

John Henry's spirit lives on. He's built everything from railroads to rocket ships. He'll be there when we build the Lunar base and the Mars colony. He'll help us get to where we're going, wherever that is.

Read Heinlein's short story The Cool Green Hills of Earth for another embodiment of that spirit (and an excellent example of what made Heinlein another John Henry).

You have to decide what the thing you must do, is. But John Henry's spirit is there within you, waiting to help you do your thing, just right.

You can do it.

Yes, you can.

- dedicated to Snuggles, the FizzKit, a damn fine cat.
She did it all just right.

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