We sat nights discussing the plight of our breed who spin yarns and words that spin no money. I knew some of the problems he was facing and the struggle he was going through to make two ends meet. I shared with him my own, and yet through it all we smiled; we wouldn’t give it up for anything; writing was an addiction..!
And then this morning I read this story: When I was a young writer with a very uncertain income, I went into a quiet park to contemplate a serious problem. For four years I had been engaged but didn’t dare to marry.
There was no way of foreseeing how little I might earn in the next year; moreover, we had long cherished a plan of living and writing in Paris, Rome, Vienna, London—everywhere. But how could we go three thousand miles away from everything that was familiar and secure, without the certainty of some money now and then?
At that moment I looked up and saw a squirrel jump from one high tree to another. He appeared to be aiming for a limb so far out of reach that the leap looked like suicide. He missed—but landed, safe and unconcerned, on a branch several feet lower. Then he climbed to his goal, and all was well.
An old man sitting on the bench said, “Funny, I’ve seen hundreds of ‘em jump like that, especially when there are dogs around and they can’t come down to the ground. A lot of ‘em miss, but I’ve never seen any hurt in trying.” Then he chuckled. “I guess they’ve got to risk it if they don’t want to spend their lives in one tree.”
I thought, A squirrel takes a chance—have I less nerve than a squirrel? We were married in two weeks, scraped up enough money for our passage and sailed across the Atlantic—jumping off into space, not sure what branch we’d land on. I began to write twice as fast and twice as hard as ever before. And to our amazement we promptly soared into the realm of respectable incomes.
Since then, whenever I have to choose between risking a new venture or hanging back, those five little words run through my thoughts: “Once there was a squirrel.And sometimes I hear the old man on the park bench saying, “They’ve got to risk it if they don’t want to spend their lives in one tree.” I for one, needed to read this little story, but I do believe it’s not writers alone who face what I face, its most everybody who follow a dream. I don’t know what your dream is dear reader. It could be giving up a lucrative job to be a businessman, when all the world tells you not to quit your job! It could be giving up money and position to work with the under privileged or amongst the sick and suffering.
Whatever it is you need to take a risk to follow your dream. You need to jump far across to that branch so high and you’ll find yourself landing safe like that squirrel. Today I know my writer friend will read this piece and together we’ll share a laugh as we pursue our dream and jump to the tree across..!