Monday, January 24, 2011

courage: and tailing tells to donkeys

A friend told me a joke a couple weeks ago that seems relevant.

There is a pirate captain sailing in her own ship, determined to out-run the British naval forces. Her first mate is pacing furiously, pulling her hair out, wringing her hands, micro-managing. Finally in disgust the first mate shouts to the captain, "they are almost within firing range sir, we are sure to have our blood shed today! We must give up!"

The captain stands still, shakes her head, even smiles a little at some inner joke, then she speaks. "No. We will fight until we have no other option. Now, bring me my red shirt, so they can not tell if their bullets have found their mark."

Yet no sooner had the first mate returned with the red shirt, than a sailor from the lookout shouted, "The Spanish forces are approaching from the north! We're to be trapped between two enemies. It's ten ships against one!"

A dreadful silence falls. And the Captain holds her head high. "We will fight!" She cries out. Then after a moment of thought, in a quieter voice, she requests of her first mate, "and bring me my brown pants."

It seems relevant because yesterday I had a good conversation with a friend who wants to be an actress. She wants to be one badly enough that should she not get into a graduate program for acting again (last year was unsuccessful), she will literally quit her job and give it a go anyway. Surviving as an actress. She's afraid. She hopes it won't come to that. I'm afraid for her. I'm also half in love with her for loving her own potential, her own art, so purely. She's got the courage to go all in, betting on herself.

Today I struggled to work on my Work In Progress (WIP), a murder mystery novel that I've been stabbing at from many angles with many different sharp objects. Ever play pin the tail on the donkey when you were young? You spend most of the game getting spun around by your friends while blindfolded until you're too dizzy to walk straight. Then you must find the donkey and affix a tail to it. It works as a metaphor for my WIP, especially if the donkey is real and actively opposed to the idea of getting a prosthetic tail stapled to its butt.

Sometimes I feel all woe-is-me I just got a hoof to the solar plexus and now all my murder motives are nothing but loose mucus. Then I remember, hey, I'm in the game, I'm the captain, bring me my red shirt. I'm learning. And you know what, if it gets worse, bring me my brown pants. I'll be here, working. Everyday.

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