We’ve all heard of the fork in the road, the point of no return, the road not taken…a point in life at which you come to an intersection of opposing opportunities – each with their own distinct and foreseeable outcomes looming at their murky edge.
This can be dismissed as an adage for the faint of heart or deemed irrelevant because the universe has decided which path you’ll take before your conscious decision making enters the fray. For me though, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the power of taking action and staying the course. Furthermore, it’s a sobering way to peer into the harmful potency of paralysed motion.
Throughout the latter half of last year my business was, in any mans language, languishing. It was splashing around in the shallows of ‘almost getting there’ and ‘if this opportunity goes through then I’m set’. The honeymoon period had long since past and my business was not going well.
I was bringing in jobs on a semi regular basis, enough to pay the bills and allow me a handful of nights out with friends each mouth – but only just.
The business had gone from a project of pure passion to a dilution of that, a burden of stress and uncertainly. For the later half of 2015, my business was like that IPhone you have, the one with the battery that dies after 3 hours. It was doing the job, but in the process it would leave you stranded and frustrated. For months I was riddled with doubt as to when the next job would roll in so I could pay off this debt or that, to put money away for next weeks electricity bill and to afford the Netflix subscription. There were periods where I would literally be dealing with loose change for a week to get me through to the next time a payment rolled in – which was not on a cycle like a paying job, but left up to when the client decided to transfer the amount. So I would go out for a beer with friends and they’d be buying rounds of delicious Pale Ales, I’d jump in knowing that it would cost me two-thirds of what I had in my back account.
This was not the reason why I started the business. The freedoms I desired were very quickly being closed down around me, I was being forced into an increasingly claustrophobic corner. You hear a lot about taking control of your own destiny and sentiment of that nature, at this point I wasn’t doing that. My ‘destiny’ was in the hands of the client that said they may be interested in getting a video done, or the one that mentioned they liked what I’d done in the past. What crap!
However, I stayed the course.
Outwardly, I would tell people the business is doing great “I’m really loving it.” Also, crap and not true. I felt the need to validate my decision to start the business by disguising what was really going on with it.
Desperation is not a very becoming cloak and the bleaker things got, the tighter I become tangled in it. So while the business wasn’t giving me what I wanted, I was never ‘unhappy’ – whatever that means. I was unfulfilled, sure, but ostensibly unhappy? No.
Still, I stayed the course.
You’re wondering where the fork in the road is coming right?
Well, here it is.
It first appeared on the horizon a few weeks before Christmas 2015. I had just been to the greatest gig of my life, had an unbelievable night out with my some of my closest mates and rode the magic carpet of the ‘natural high’ all the way home.
However, as I often do when after a night out – I sat up in bed listening to some of my favourite songs. On came my favourite song of all time “Orange Sky” by Alexi Murdoch. This is a song that carries a lot of weight with me and it always stirs up some kind of unaddressed emotions in me. (Google this song and have a listen)
This time I had a ‘look at yourself in the mirror’ moment. I just sat there – in paralysed motion. The motion being Usain Bolt riding Sea Biscuit inside my mind, my thoughts were pulsing, a billion neurones firing, I thought about everything and nothing. Then it came into sharp focus “ Are you really enjoying what your business if offering you?”
The answer, at that moment, was no.
I sat in bed and cried. Orange Sky echoing around me, it was a moment of pure emotion and of extreme power.
I stayed the course.
The fork was coming up fast and it was a few weeks later that I arrived at the inevitable intersection.
I had a conversation with my father about how the business was going and how I was going to move forward with it in 2016. I think I was truly honest about the state of AWS Productions for the first time that night. I said I really don’t know how this is going to be a viable option for me moving forward. At that point, I was terrified. I’d been in this business for the last 15 months, sinking everything into it, pouring all of myself into it, gone into debt for it. Not to mention this was my passion for my whole life, it was something I’d really thought I’d wanted. What would I be without it?
I sat there and thought, there has to be a better way here? I talked it over with dad, lump in my throat, tears in my eyes. Usain and Biscuit were at it again. I was thinking that this is where AWS Productions ends. I didn’t say that, but I thought it. I went to bed that night and looked for jobs, searching for options and a way out. The fork in the road staring me straight in the face, both trails leading into a dark and uncertain future.
For some inexplicable reason, I stayed the course even then. Even with every part of my logical brain screeching, hissing and howling in dismay, I stayed the fucking course.
Then came 2016.
I wish I could tell you what changed, what I changed or what happened to incite what happened next – but I truly can’t.
Literally since the first day of this year, things have been different. I went from having barely enough to stay afloat to having almost too much work. I don’t have the answers as to what changed, but it has. While it’s been incredible, this next phase of running of the business has brought with it it’s own share of challenges.
The business is healthy, more healthy than I could have predicted even with the most optimistic outcomes. The fork beckoned, I baulked. Who knows where that other path would have led but I’m incredibly grateful I didn’t take it.
For a long time I lived with the notion that my passion was enough to get me through, for the longest time I believed that. For the longest time I believed that living my passion through my work was enough to fulfil me. I think this was what got to me the most, when I wasn’t getting what I wanted even though my work was my passion. What’s going on here, it should be different? The reality is that working your passion is not all it’s portrayed to be. We’ve been sold a lie on this one. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should all live out our passions and work doing something we love. However, we should also know that having that alone will not grant you everything you desire. There will still be shit times, there will be times where you question yourself and what you’re doing – regardless of where you’re at in your career, life or relationships. There will be times when you’re unhappy and you know what? This is the way it should be, this is the way it has to be. There is no acquiring happiness or success, it’s merely a by-product of the ride you’re on and the road you’ve taken, forked or otherwise.