The Writing On My Walls

It’s not much of a reach to say I am a big fan of manifestos and slogans. After all, I’ve made a career out of creating them. But recently I was reminded of my obsession with the written word when a guest remarked that she was getting a kick out of reading the signs I had all over my house.

“Oh, are you talking about this one?” I asked, showing her the newly framed quote I’d just hung in my first floor "Zen" bathroom: Happiness is a Decision.

“No…” she laughed. “The sign hanging by your bar. Take me Drunk. I’m Home.

My basement is filled with much to inspire your inner wild child, including gems like Beware of the Man who Does Not Drink and Martinis! Helping People Lower Their Standards Since 1927!

My bedroom motivation takes a more pragmatic turn, thanks to a Lululemon poster on the back of my door that reminds me to Dance, Sing, Floss and Travel and to DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!

But lately, the sign I keep coming back to is the one above my kitchen table, a poem by an unknown author, simply titled “Don’t Quit.”

I happen to know the poem by heart because a wooden plaque bearing those very same words hung on the wall of my childhood kitchen and I would sit there and gaze at it while I ate my Cap’n Crunch.

Once I was done reading the back of the cereal box, of course.

It never occurred to me back then that those verses might be sinking in through osmosis, but they must have been, since perseverance is perhaps the trait I’m most known for. That, or being a low-talking mumbler. (Both would explain why I’ve pursued a hard-fought career as an unsilenceable writer.)

But most of the time, persisting is plain hard. It would require far fewer muscles to quit. Case in point, this here blog of mine. It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything, it would be a cinch to just throw in the towel, stop paying for the domain name, and pretend the whole thing was a social experiment that expired. I’m convinced only two people read this stuff anyway. So why not take the easy way out and close up my blog shop for good?

I could apply the same rationale to my journey as an author working to bring my next book into the world. It’s exhausting hoping for the big break, getting back on the horse, try try trying again.

You know, failing your way to success.

Some days, I wish I could let myself stay down, hide under the covers with my stash of chocolate and just fail without fail. But that dang “Don’t Quit” poem is too stuck in my head. Especially the opening lines:

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit. 

Catchy, right? But it’s this last verse that always gets me, forcing me to lace up my combat boots and return to the slamdance even when I’m in no mood to mosh.   

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Arghh. That is why I’ve got to keep keeping on. And it’s why I found, framed and hung this very same poem for my own kids to skim when they’re done studying what’s written on the box of Cinnamon Cheerios. So they don’t quit the team. Don’t quit being a nice friend. Don’t quit doing the very best they can and believing good things are just around the bend.

You probably have some fortune cookie wisdom floating around between your own ears, so why not print those words out and stick 'em somewhere you and your loved ones can see them? We all need reminding to Do It Now and to Dance, Sing and Travel. (Though I personally think flossing should be optional.)

And at the end of the day, if success still seems far, you can always heed the advice found on another of my bar signs:  ALCOHOL. Because No Great Story Ever Started With Someone Eating a Salad.

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