It was a cold, frigid, morning as my father drove me to work in his trusty, reliable little red truck. I had stayed with him and mom over the weekend, spending time with the people I love, and watching the team I love, the Broncos, get their backsides handed to them in the Super Bowl.
“So you said you don’t like your job, honey?” My father is nothing if not a serious, down to the ground, nose to the grinder, kind of guy. He does not have a creative bone in his body. This is fine; it’s not who he is. He is the amazing man that has stood by mom and I through thick and thin. He is the sturdy backbone of the family. He just doesn’t understand the need to create. I suppose I can understand when the only thing you really created in your life was spread sheets.
“No, its not that I don’t like my job. It’s fine. I just can’t imagine doing this for the next 35 years of my life.”
I will not be sharing my dreams with him this time around.
He cannot see what I see, or understand the need to create. He understands safe and sound and protected. He does not have an imagination like me, and I feel bad for him. I finally understand after years of thinking I wasn’t enough, that I just don’t have certain qualities he does, and he doesn’t have certain traits I possess.
“Well you won’t be doing what you are doing, you will be moving up the ladder, getting a good solid position. I think after five years with the state you can start buying years for your pension. You could retire by 60 if you play your cards right.” To a 66 year old that retired at 64 this probably sounds like an amazing idea. I wanted to slit my wrists. Great only 29 more years to go!
“Well, yeah great.” I swallow and look out the car window at the icy roads and all the cars we are passing by in the HOV lane. All those people going to work, trudging through the 9-5, driving back home. Hoping to retire by 60.
“Or I could have a runaway best seller and make a million dollars this year.”
Dad sniffs. To him it sounds as likely as him fronting a rock band, or me, suddenly becoming an astronaut. I know this is the logical answer, the normal, safe, expected, response to what I have just said. “Yeah, right.” He sniffs again and I remind myself why I’m not sharing my idea of running away from it all in just 16 months. I’m a little upset at him now. I don’t laugh at him when he tells me he spent ten bucks on the lottery that week. Or any other week, or every week of his life. I think my chances are a lot better than the lottery. I have control of my writing and how hard I work. He has no control over those spinning balls.
“Just so you know Dad, the second I hit a million dollars, I’m out.” This was my goal before I came up with my new plan and frankly, if I hit it earlier, I’d be on my way to freedom sooner than next May.
“Yeah, maybe a million per month.” Excuse me!?! Don’t get me wrong, it is just as possible to make a million a month as it is to make my first million, I’m sure I read the numbers behind that somewhere but really? He wants me making $12 million a year before I retire from my current job?! Now who’s the out in space dreamer??? When was the last time he made a million in one month, one year, ONE FREAKING DECADE!?!
“Uh, no. A million dollars made. On all the books, one book, film rights, I don’t care, I’m walking away.”
“Honey you would blow all that money in like, five days! You can’t walk away until you are making that over and over.”
Now I’m just floored, and more than a little pissed off. He notices and changed the subject.
Now that I have had time to think this ridiculous claim over again I realize that he not only insulted me, he insulted my mother and himself as well. They raised me so carefully, safely, to be so overly cautious, its to the point that I have no faith in my own abilities, or the confidence a normal 31 year old should have. Just stick to the tried and true, straight and narrow, don’t try anything crazy, don’t do anything but go to college, get a good job, and work until you retire, saving up money for your golden years.
So what in the hell makes my father suddenly think that if I found a seven figure amount in my bank account, I would turn into MC Hammer and blow it on Hummers and Yachts? Not that you can buy a yacht for a million…
This would not happen. Instead, my normal, practical voice inside my head, that sounds amazingly like my fathers, would step in and say, “You need to keep this in the bank. Find someone to invest it reasonably. Then go back to work.” My mom’s little voice would then step in and say, “Good job honey, treat yourself with something nice, maybe a trip, you love to travel. Nothing too expensive… Oh and talk to your father about how you should save that money up. Don’t tell anyone at work, they won’t look at you the same.”
I wonder, if I even had my own voice inside my head? What it would say?
Well I do know the first thing it would say… I’m free! And look, you really are good at writing! And to all those other voices inside my head that told me I could never do it, kiss off and look at all those Benjamins in my bank! Now how are we going to break this to my very nice boss. Ooh! Take her out to a super fancy lunch and then tell her the news. That will be fun. Then tell that poor sour puss in the cubicle down the way that every terrible thing that has ever happened to her is entirely her fault for nailing herself to the martyr cross of suffering.
I would then take out my good friends for a night on the town, or perhaps a nice dinner in my house with Dom Perignon. Always celebrate the big leagues with Dom, this has been my goal since I found out what the stuff was from a Bond movie when I was 13!
Then the voice in my head would say, OK start packing for vacation, pay off the credit card and the car, then make an appointment with a financial advisor to move 90% of that money out of grasp.
The 980,000 thousand you will have left after your celebratory trip and the interest off of the money that will be in the bank, you will be able to live for a good few years doing exactly what you want. And hey if you made a million, then most likely you are going to keep earning good money on those books. Yeah, you are good to go. Oh! Take another $10k out for a charity you believe in. And put a good five in Joe’s college fund.
OK so perhaps Dad was onto something when he said I would blow it in a few days. Yes, I would blow 20k in a week, but really is investing in a good charity, my good friends, and my darling nephew “blowing it”?
Who knows I might ask Dad what he would do with a bonus 20k to see what he says. If it’s at all creative, I’ll be sure to make it happen for him. And mom can have 20k too, just for being so cute.
I wake up from my day dream to look at my cube, with a picture of Joe and my panda family that lives on the desk. There is no harm in dreaming big. There is nothing wrong with having big goals. There is everything wrong with listening to my father and giving up before I have even tried. I just need to find a way over these next months to let my own voice inside my head talk more than his.
Don’t let any one steal your dreams.