I read something interesting about how fishermen catch crabs, the other day.
Crabs are agile, sneaky creatures. Most cages, they can find a way out of. So what the fishermen do is they make a big cage with an opening at the top and fill the bottom of the cage with food. One crab will crawl in and start snacking away. Then another one will join, and another. Pretty soon it’s a crab buffet and the local crab community is sharing gossip, catching up and chowing down.
It’s like one big crab family BBQ.
After awhile, the food will run out. What’s interesting though is that the crabs will continue to congregate for hours after the foods gone. More and more crabs will join them, because crabs are inherently social creatures.
Eventually though, the party gets too crowded.
“Come on Gary, let’s get going.” One crab will say to another, and they’ll start to climb their way out of the cage.
“AAACH!” Gary yells out in pain. “What the-”
Looking down in agony, his eyes lock with another crab. It’s his cousin, John. John has a firm crab claw grip on Gary’s crabby arm.
“John, what the hell?”
“Don’t leave Gary. It’s warm in here. It’s dangerous out there. The ocean is a big place full of scary creatures and uncertainties.” John says, his beady little eyes piercing into Gary’s soul.
Gary’s friend has already left the cage and, seeing as John doesn’t look like he’ll be letting go anytime soon, Gary reluctantly decides to stay.
Several crabs try to leave as the hours go by and the same thing happens over and over again. The majority of them stay and eventually they get yanked out of the water screaming and confused. Then they get cooked up and served with butter.
This actually happens in the wild. Crabs will rip each other’s claws off to prevent fellow crabs from leaving the safety of the cage. Their intentions are good. They really think they’re protecting their fellow crab person.
And I can’t help but think of the solemn connection between the crabs and humans. Every time I see someone start something that is a little too different from what everyone else is doing, they’re met with criticism.
I’ve seen so many friends and coworkers venture off to pursue their dreams. Start-up businesses, authors in the making, wannabe actors – all to be met with such criticism and passive-aggressive words from the ones in their life that are closest to them.
Of course, these people aren’t intentionally destroying their friend’s dreams and hell, maybe they’re even doing them a favor. Maybe they would be a terrible writer.
But here’s the thing.
THERE’S NO WAY THEY WOULD EVER FIND OUT UNLESS THEY TRIED.
Then six months down the road the conversation goes something like this:
“Hey man! How’s that new album coming along? You were so fired up about writing the chorus on the third track, last time I talked to you.”
“Oh, yeah. I gave it up. I decided to pursue something more realistic.”
And they just shrug and look at me blankly. There’s a palpable deadness in their eyes.
Where is this world going to be if all the future Fitzgeralds, Jetts and Musks get talked out of making their contribution to this planet because their Aunt Barbara made such a convincing point that her nephew tried to start his own business a few years ago and it didn’t work so it probably won’t ever work for them either, like ever, no matter what.
Holy run on sentence… breathe.
Sure, not everyone is cut out to pursue that kind of life. But I think a lot of people, who would have been quite great, never amounted to much because of this type of thinking. And that, to me, is a really sad thing.
If you think you’ve got a shot at it and you know there’s a market for it, then you’d be crazy to not at least try it out. We’re going to die anyway, right?
If you’re reading this, and you have something you want to do with your life that you know isn’t being welcomed with the warmest reception from your friends and family. If you know deep down it’s what you really want to do. If you feel like life turns to monochrome every time you go a week without it. If doing it lights your soul on fire like kerosene and a blow torch… know that I’m rooting for you.
Make one more dial. Write one more song. Knock one more door. Keep going just a little bit longer and remember why you started doing your thing in the first place.
Politely, tell your Aunt Barbara to go fuck herself. Get back to work.