Last night, as I brought the tray of sausage roll, Americano, and Mocha to the table where my friend was waiting, a group of people settled into the table next to us. We were at Starbucks, outside. One of them, a guy with a ponytail and a pair of glasses recognized my friend. My friend did too. The guy took an empty chair from another table and placed it next to my friend. He sat next to her, and a short excited catch-up exchange happened between them.
The guy introduced my friend to his friends on the next table. My friend introduced me to them as well.
“He’s a writer too, an aspiring writer,” my friend told the guy, who I just found out was my friend’s former co-worker and a writer (or perhaps a former writer). He was working in a non-writing related job from the snippet of conversation I heard.
“There’s no money in it,” the guy laughed. “Look at me.” He laughed harder.
I responded with a smile, that wasn’t visible in the dim, and with silence. My sausage roll was more interesting. I sliced a piece and took a bite. I wasn’t really insulted, more unaffected. My internal reaction was more like: Meh! I don’t care what you say. My motivation to write is solely not money.
In less than two minutes, he left and went back to his friends. They talked for a short while before he left them with their coffee. I was happy to see him gone.
I had forgotten his name that instant, how fitting. I could’ve unleashed my inner jerk and started a verbal commotion at the coffee shop. “How dare you %^#@ing jackass insult my dream! Who the &*@7 do you think you are to mock my ambition!” But I didn’t.
I am now in a place of security and confidence, definite in what I want to do in my life. No words, be they discouragement or a passing joke, shall break the spirit that I try so hard to safeguard within. For what pleasure and reward will it give me, yielding to the words of a stranger who “had been there”? Do I want to die with a heap of regrets, that I didn’t live my life, all the way to my grave? Or do I want to enact the meaning of the word ‘live’, which many has yet to understand? I know the answer all too well.
I will remember the wise words of Biz Stone in his book Things a Little Bird Told Me, words that will help me conquer the fear. He said, “In order to succeed spectacularly, you must be ready to fail spectacularly. In other words, you must be willing to die to achieve your goals.” He didn’t meant to die literally, of course. But the last three words were so powerful: achieve your goals.
The next time someone tells me, “There’s no money in it,” I will laugh. Then I will laugh harder.
This short story was originally published on June 2014.
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