A friend on Twitter, Jennifer Garam (who goes by the Twitter Tag @writieouschick – that’s so cool), posted this quote by Isadora Duncan last week: “You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.”
It had an impact. Several of us appreciated it, Jennifer posted on it on her blog, One Writeous Chick, and then another friend, Judy Clement Wall, riffed on it too on her blog Zebra Sounds. We came up with a little hashtag magic - #youwerewildhere – and now we’re enjoying our little not-so-secret movement in the Twitterverse. It's growing, very slowly and very organically, and I love that it's staying humble. Every day someone new jumps in, and there's another blog post, and the whole thing feels pretty real.
This is my contribution, such as it is.
I started a new job on Monday. Actually, it’s an old job. After nine years of casino work leading into the life inversion that got me out of there, I started back with the casino that I first worked at earlier this week. Dealing cards. Back to the beginning.
When they say that writers need to cultivate multiple sources of revenue, I never imagine this as part of my fantasy. I really didn’t want to go back. I would have been happy as a clam to never actually set foot in a casino again. I really would have.
The life inversion was and is, in large part, about rejecting the consumerist world. I wanted to find the best me out beyond the bright lights and bells and whistles of the casino world, away from accumulating stuff and living up to popular social standards. The whole thing is an illusion, a fantasy of winning, a mirage of possibility, wealth and vanity inside a reality of desperation and narcissism.
But, dealing is also a chance to make twice as much as I could anywhere else at entry level. There are bills to pay, jobs are scarce, and I still know people in that world. It’s still about who ya know, not what ya know. And, frankly, I know how to deal cards. I can work two days a week and cover my minimal nut. This will allow more time to write. It’s kind of a no-brainer. And yet…
I keep asking myself if this is a compromise that I’m making, if somehow I’m losing the compass heading and drifting back into an orbit that I worked so hard to get out of. It’s not pride or vanity; It’s not wearing a uniform again after so many years in a suit. It’s the fact that it’s a casino. I hate that world. Love the people (some of them), hate the environment.
And when I realize that - how much I hate being there – I stop worrying. Other than the bare minimum of revenue to support me while I write, there’s nothing I want there. It’s not me anymore, in any way shape or form. It’s just a thing I do to help me chase my dreams; chase my better self. Living a life without compromise was always a dream, never a goal. The world doesn’t work that way. The goal was to make as few compromises as was possible, and to make the ones that were unavoidable count.
There was a time that casinos offered the possibility of a career, a chance to learn new things, and some sense of helping others by being a good manager, a good leader. It was fun to feel important and capable for a while in that milieu. I thought I was wild there once, briefly, but I let that environment, its pretty lights and the promise of career, meaning, importance and security tame me. I bought in. That won’t happen again.
I don’t claim to have found the wild me - the better me - again when I left the casinos twenty months ago, but I found the path to that me. I found the journey, and the journey is what it's all about.
The writing is wild. Hell, it’s the wildest thing ever. The better me I aspire to exists, not at the end of this road, but every step along the way, every page I type out, every bit of craft I learn, and even more when I ignore the craft and reach for magic. Every day I can spend rummaging around in my imagination, or soaring on the creative thermals that blow when things are just perfect, is a day spent being wild. And like most things, the more you do it, the better you get at it.
This casino gig isn’t a compromise, it’s a sacrifice; a distasteful thing I have to do that harms nobody else but me, and even then only if I let it. It allows me to pursue the dream, to rummage and soar. It is the sacrifices we're prepared to make that define how much we love the thing we're chasing. I find that I am prepared to make some fairly large ones. This sacrifice, this little thing?
It’s just a small part of finding wild.