wendy on the plank

On my last week at my past job, I e-mailed my clients to let them know that I was leaving to pursue my as a singing instructor and songwriter. One of my clients wrote me back to congratulate me, and then told me that her favourite fictional character for a long time was Wendy from Peter Pan, who walked off the plank without knowing for sure if anyone was going to catch her.

I’m realizing now how truly scary it is to follow your dreams. Before, it was a lot easier for me to just take off and follow whatever my heart was telling me to do because the risks were so low. I lived with my parents, I drove a car that was purchased for me and already paid in full and I had no student loans or credit card debts to pay off. My cell phone wasn’t even on a contract. I was completely uncommitted to anything.

Now, I have a mortgage, two cars, a line of credit, a business and a marriage. I’m no longer just me and a suitcase; I’m also a credit score and a dozen monthly bill payments. Sacrifice is no longer just a personal choice, and failure is no longer an option. Suddenly, it’s hard not to make my dreams place second to my obligations, which appear to be a lot more real in comparison.

So I tried. For months, I tried to go down the practical road. I got a good job with good pay, with business cards and a company phone and everything. I was on the fast track to success…and I was miserable.

So I quit.

It’s been nearly two  months since I walked down that plank. I terribly miss my friends at my last job, but I’m also much happier now. It’s as if, after nearly a year of holding my breath, I’m finally able to take in some air. Interestingly, I recently found out that one of my co-workers at my current job is going down the same road where I came from two months ago. Except in her case, a really good job (that she actually likes) in a really good workplace. She also has kids, grandkids, and a couple decades of marriage on the line. And just like that, with her amazing family behind her, she’s starting her professional life again from scratch to follow a calling that is completely new, but in her heart is completely certain.

Wow. Now, that’s a plank.

When I made the decision to go from option A to option B, the choice was obvious. It was still hard to make, but in the end, it was obvious what I had to do. I’m now imagining being in her situation, where option A is really almost as good as option B. Where the stakes are much higher than mine, and with so many more people watching and depending on you. Where you’re choosing between what is already great versus the mere possibility of something that might be greater. Where the only reason for leaving the status quo is a still, small voice in your heart, telling you to get out of your comfort zone, to take the path less taken.

Maybe one day, I’ll hear that small voice. When I do, I’m hoping that I’ll have as much courage as my co-worker did. The people who listen to that calling, who follow it and put their lives on the line for it, those are the people who live to the fullest. They walk the line between fear and abandon, certainty and the unknown.

And they dive right in. Like Wendy on the plank.

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