I was rushing to clean guacamole from my white dress when a woman at the end of the table told me, “I am a fan of yours”. I laughed, told her I would be right back, and wondered what I had done to deserve a “fan” as I cleaned the oily green substance from my dress. When I walked back, she told me she had received the cancer booklets I had written more than 10 years ago. A friend of a friend had given them to her for another friend who had cancer. She loved them and so did he. I asked her name again. She told me and mentioned the friend who had given her the books. Memories flooded my mind from what seemed like another life.
Maybe it was. I had been trying to distribute and sell a series of illustrated booklets that I had written for cancer patients while recovering from cancer treatment and building a little house in Tulum where I could host others like myself. Every chance I got, I told someone about my books and would give them a set, just in case they knew someone with cancer who could show them to their doctors. I believed someone would eventually buy a million helping me finish my houses across the street from the beach, bring women in treatment to enjoy them and allow me to continue my life as artistic philanthropist. I dreamed of travelling from Tulum to New York and Boston and the world, writing and drawing and talking to cancer patients and holding their hands, helping them feel alive during treatment.
It didn’t happen that way. I scraped enough money together teaching yoga and consulting in engineering to finish my houses. And there was the injection of cash from the retirement account I had worked 17 years to accrue, minus the penalties of course. My family and friends helped fund gifts of the books to hospitals all over the US, Mexico and Europe. My uncle helped me put solar lighting into my house. But after 5 years of trying, 5 grants to women in treatment, 5 survivors coming to Tulum and about 5 calls from the IRS about my non-profit status, I had enough. It was exhausting, for me and everyone around me. I stopped pushing so hard. But every so often a set of those little books pops up and I am inspired to do what I can once again.
So, I had to smile when she said she was a “fan”. I thanked her and confided that those little books were about the best thing I had ever done. I had followed my heart with some creative spirit channeling itself through me. I still get calls for them. I still look for copies of them so that I can gift them. I still look for philanthropists who might make more happen. They are on e books and I found a bunch in my mom’s closet for a new person who will give them to someone else and affect more people in a good way. I am not making myself crazy pushing them, but I believe they may still reverberate through the world.
My point is, If you have an idea that you are passionate about, find the way to make it happen until you are too tired to pursue it anymore. And then keep going. Don’t just give it 5 minutes or 5 hours or even 5 years. Keep your passion alive while you look for ways to manage it. Ride the wave and let your passion flow, fast and furious, or slow and peacefully. Because, although I didn’t ever sell one million copies, that really is only a number. And in going with a certain flow, I have affected a whole bunch of people who needed a hand to hold during a difficult time in their lives. I continue to do so. And, I have one fan.