I often wonder what would have become of me if I’d not become what I became (whatever that is). I know if I’d surrendered to the momentum of family coercion that existed in my formidable years of early adulthood, I would be drunk in an alley, dead, or all of the above. Selling residential real estate at my dad’s office in Hattiesburg, Ms. was my other option, and I tried it for 3-4 years. I must say, I learned a valuable lesson during my real estate tenure in the small town. Real estate was not for me.
But there was an even tougher piece of information I had to whittle down into a shape and form that would make sense. At age 30, what would I do with my life. I narrowed it down to one thing. Anything but real estate in Hattiesburg, Ms. After that I tried a lot of things. I drove a cab and became a bartender in New York City while honing my skills at stand-up comedy at night. I also did a pr internship in between. Though I learned something from all those experiences, I also learned that neither NYC nor those “valuable experiences” were for me.
More years went by and about 5 or so jobs later, I found myself in an abandoned tin warehouse back in my hometown of Hattiesburg, Ms. with only a few friends who cared. I started a plan to escape but didn’t tell a soul.
After a brief sabbatical in Ontario Canada (that’s the typical place most go who don’t fit into one’s southern U.S. hometown, isn’t it?…,, I ended up in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas which I love dearly. It was here that my beloved wife Lee and I got married and hike our beautiful mountains where she does her art, photography and hiking, and I do my hiking, writing, and cartooning. No, it’s not the 9-5 coat and tie behind the desk with all kinds of pretty engraved plaques on the wall, but it is wide open spaces, prints of our own work showcased all over our walls, and us.
We are happy people. Nobody told us this is what it might take to be happy; that is, not “in search of happiness, but letting happiness be in search of us.
Which brings me to the cartoon in this blog, “Picasso’s Peanuts”. I can only imagine, as great a cubist as Picasso was, that he might have gone through some “misadventures” similar to many of us, that didn’t quite work out for him. One doesn’t simply exit the womb with the dream, “I want to be a great cubist artist”. In fact I can almost assure anyone, he went through some traumatic experiences, same as I did, same as many others did too.
Hence the above cartoon came to mind around 2001. I had already left the pitiful jobs in which I was as pitiful as the job, if not more so. I know now life is not about being pitiful, or working at pitiful jobs in towns in which trying to fit in causes my being more pitiful.
I don’t have regrets of all the jobs and towns that led me to this, what I consider “a pinnacle”. It took what it took for me to listen to a “Higher Voice” that said to me (lucidly), “Rick, you deserve to be happy; no matter what ‘they’ say”.
Rick London is a writer, designer and cartoonist. He is best known for Londons Times Cartoons which he launched in 1997. It has been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts since January 2005.