There’s a lot going on in my head right now. A bit too much for my liking.I’m hoping to get it all out in a coherent structure soon but for now here’s something that popped into my head the other day that’s been brewing ever since I made the decision to abandon my designs for a freelance life(for now) and plum for the safer 9-5 option.
Imagine you’re lying on a beach somewhere. The sun is shining overhead. You’re warm and contented and perhaps dozing off a little. Suddenly you are shaken from your reverie by people stampeding down the shore, all clambering to get to into the sea. You don’t know where they are going, but you know you have to follow them.
You don’t want to go. You are comfortable here. It’s familiar to you. It’s easy here. But deep down, you know that you cannot stay here, even though the sand is warm under your feet and the breeze feels good on your back. You reluctantly get to the shore. Most people have left already, set sail for the great horizon, their little sailboats bobbing on the waves. You move to join them, but you don’t know how to sail. You don’t know where you’re going, but you know you have to move forward, into the unknown.
You fasten your sail-yellow, like many of the others you see around you.You like yellow and you’re happy to have this colour. After a while, you notice splashes of other colours-purples and blues and reds dotted around the oceanscape like strokes on a masterpiece from a great unseen artist. Bit by bit, you begin to change your sail. You paint a small, simple flower in red in the upper corner. It looks lovely, your little flower-a splash of brightness in a sea of yellow. You notice other sailboat owners gazing admiringly at your sail. You feel proud of your accomplishments.
Then one day, a sailboat zooms by with a gorgeously detailed red rose emblazoned boldly in the middle of its sail. Instantly you feel deflated and disgusted by your efforts. You tear down your sail, embarrased that you once thought this was any good. Without your sail, your little boat thrashes about, battling the waves, unable to steer in any direction. You spin out of control. You feel angry, hurt and afraid.
Overhead, you start to notice that some people have made modifications to their sailboats, turning them into hoverboats that soar higher and higher into the sky. You want to call out to these people-how did you do that? but you hold your tongue. You don’t want to be a copycat, you want to be original.You just don’t know how.
Eventually, you uncurl yourself from your little ball, smooth out your ripped sail, make yourself a cup of tea(because your sailboat has an inbuilt survival pack which includes a kettle, teabags, some sugar, pint of milk and chocolate Rich Tea biscuits) and begin to sew your flag back together.
Now your flag is a patchwork quilt of designs, of jagged neddle work and ripped edges. It bears the scars of your torments and uncertainty. You are deeply ashamed of it and full of regret for your past choices. Now you don’t know what to do to make it better. Some passing sailors call out to you with compliments on how your sail looks now. They tell you that you should be an artist. The problem is a) You don’t believe them. b) it seems like everyone is an “artist” these days and c) artists don’t get paid that much and you need money for your destination.
When you finally reach the new shore and leave your sailboat behind, you find the first job available. One where creativity is not nurtured but a safe, secure one future is a given. Where you can earn a steady wage-nothing too fancy obviously, but one with which the banks will be happy to offer you a mortgage for. And you know you should feel lucky, thinking of all the sailboats that didn’t make it but each day, the idea of that bright red rose displayed proudly to the world, withers and dies a little more and you wonder if you will ever be able to realise your dreams before it is too late.