I am one of a million Saint Robinson's. My name isn’t Arthur, it’s Jim, and for the last six years I’ve been having an affair with a girl named Ambition.
Ambition’s a wicked little mistress. Those of us who court her suffer a thousand heartaches yet we crawl back on bloodied hands and knees begging for more. Masochistic? You betcha.
I sleep with this greedy mistress every night, trying to convince myself that it was she who courted me. I don’t know when or how it happened, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve held the belief that I was meant to do more in this world than simply go to school, work, and retire. I’m one of those idealistic fools who tell themselves that they’re here on this Earth to make some kind of difference. What difference can I make? It’s the single question I’ve asked since age ten, the year I began talking to myself.
I love music, so why not start a band? I’ll inspire the world with thoughtful lyrics and addictive melodies. Oh if only I could play an instrument or read the notes. What about an actor? Perhaps I could inspire and entertain people by portraying a character from a piece of great literature? Nope. I laugh at everything. I’d never be able to keep it together on stage. Ah- ha! A psychologist. I’m a good listener. I could really do some great things for my fellow humans and maybe even inspire them to reach new heights and better themselves for the good of the world. What? I’ll be in school until I’m thirty? No thanks. So what, then, did I end up choosing as my vocation? What is it that I finally settled with as my way to change the world? I chose what every great dreamer chooses, a job in sales.
My vocation has served me well and has kept most of the bills paid. My military experience combined with my sales and marketing skills are what I’ve told myself will be the necessary foundational skills on which I can build what it is I’m really supposed to be doing – writing. Yep, after all the soul searching and the endless inner monologue, this is what I’ve decided will be my avenue for inspiration, but like all the other Saint Robinson’s of the world, I made the decision and lost sight of everything else. Like I said, Ambition, she’s a bitch.
I’d suddenly been able to see so clearly in my mind where it was I wanted to be, so it was on. It was me versus the universe and I was too bullheaded to fail (still am.) A divorce, several failed relationships, time missed with my daughter, and evenings spent pent up at the computer hunting and pecking away were what she’d demanded of me. I willingly obliged.
Then, about two years into my endeavor, I stumbled upon an interview Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows (one of my favorite bands) had given. He talked about one of my favorite songs and, until that moment, I hadn’t realized why. He said that St. Robinson In His Cadillac Dream was all about wanting to get where you needed to be so badly that you lose sight of what’s right in front of you along the way. I’d stopped hunting and pecking and let it settle in. Then I listened to the song again.
I listen to it almost daily as a reminder to pull back the reins, smell the flowers, and enjoy today as much as the idea of tomorrow. Take this as a lesson, fellow dreamers, ballerinas, salesmen, and writers. Don’t let that cunning she-devil, Ambition, get too tight a grip around you, or she my very well snuff out the life that’s right in front of you. You’ll get what you want. I promise you that. But if you get it and realize you’ve missed a ton along the way, don’t say that St. Robinson and I didn’t warn you.