I am chasing a wild goose because, according to legend, he swallowed a red herring and I want that fish. It’s insane for me to believe that I will ever actually make money writing. Yet I persist in trying. Over and over. If it were a literal brick wall I would stop (and have another flat spot on my head). So why don’t I?
I think the first reason is that I will write whether or not I make any money at it. The second is that it doesn’t cost me anything other than a bit of frustration when I’m not successful. The third is ego – I think I can do it and it’s just a matter of time before everyone else realizes it. The fourth? Ahh. That’s the kicker.
I’m chasing a dream and there is no finer pursuit. Well, perhaps the hunting of men, as Hemmingway so eloquently stated, but even that must surely grow wearisome in comparison to the vision quest. I’ll admit I’ve been a bit lost since finishing Falling Star. I even wrote about my bout with writer’s block (it’s over – the draft of the play is finished). But not today. I saw something amazing.
Last weekend I met my cousin the professional soccer player. As in he gets paid to play soccer and that’s his job. I remember hearing all of the stories about him in high school and then some rather pointed criticism about which college he was attending based on – gasp – the soccer program rather than the degree program. Then when he left the country to play for a Latin American team there was a great outcry of, “How could you throw these very important years away?” I thought it was pretty cool he was going for it, but really, how likely is he to make it to the big time?
I was hopeful for him, and tried to discourage the discouragers from being discouraging – after all, I have another cousin who purposed to kiss Bob Barker before he left the Price is Right and she totally rocked that. But to be a pro-ball player? That’s like selling a screenplay.
I watched him on the sidelines of the game we attended. Kids leaned out over the fence, extending their hands and he slapped them as he ran back and forth. He couldn’t see all the smiles but I could. Fans. His name on the back of his jersey. Then after the game there were the pictures with my kids out on the field with him. Wearing their jersey’s signed by the whole team. Beaming. It was amazing.
I shook his hand and congratulated him on living the dream. He laughed and I told him I was serious. I thought it was awesome that he went for it and I was very excited for him that he is making it. I think he was embarrassed by this old man. Then he said, “I just couldn’t see myself doing the 9-5.” That’s sort of like Cortez burning his ships – if you can’t see yourself sailing back to Spain, you won’t sail back to Spain.
I don’t see him doing 9-5 either. But we watched him do 4-0 and it was the most exciting 90 minutes of soccer I’ve ever watched.